The year 2011 meant different things to different people. The year brought with it different shades of fortune, some felt the good side of the year, to some, it was nothing short of bad while some others had to cope with the ugly events that came their ways in the course of the year.
For once the much vilified Nigerian Senate was applauded by a vast majority of the country’s population after it refused to pass a bill legalizing same sex marriage. To many Nigerians the Senate’s decision was a welcome one.
The National Drug Law Enforcement Agency ended up winning ace comedian, Babatunde Omidina a number of more admirers as they failed to physically prove that the images shown by their body scanner was real. After weeks of detention, Baba Suwe as the comedian is fondly referred to was let off the hook.
One can hardly talk about 2011 without mentioning the feat achieved by the Libyan “rebels” who ousted and saw the end of the country’s strongman after eight months of civil war.
2011 would also hardly be incomplete with the mention of Wikileaks, the whistle-blowing website that leaked embarrassing international secrets via the release of diplomatic cables. The website shook the whole world with the revelations it made.
Relatively unknown Karen Igho too stunned the African continent when she won the reality TV game show, Big Brother Africa Amplified, thereby becoming a household name in Nigeria and beyond. And on the foreign scene, French Minister of Finance, Christine Lagarde became the first female Chief of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
On Nigeria’s political scene, the political domination of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the South West was broken as the Action Congress of Nigeria swept the region at the polls.
The outlawed Islamic Sect, Boko Haram proved to be more than a thorn in the hide of Nigeria. The sect held Nigerians by the jugular and Nigerians have not only lived in fear, they keep asking themselves when or where the next bomb will be detonated. The sect has claimed responsibility for the many suicide bombings and shootings that have killed hundreds of people. On the 18th day of June, a suicide bomber drove into the Luis Edet Building Headquarters of the Nigerian Police Force causing an explosion that killed scores of people. The same method was used at the United Nations Building in Abuja on August 26. The fear of bomb attacks forced the government to opt for a low key 51st independence anniversary celebration. The issue became complicated when the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) issued bomb threats ahead of the celebrations. Ali Konduga who claimed to be the spokesman for the Boko Haram group was arrested, tried and jailed.
Though the former Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) claimed to have “fought a good fight”, Nigerians in some quarters know better. Aspersions have been cast on her for her approach to the anti-corruption crusade. Through the Freedom of Information act, a revelation was made that she retired as a Commissioner of Police and not as an Assistant Inspector General as she claimed. She was eventually shown the way out in the last quarter of 2011.
Also fired and vilified was Samson Siasia, the Head Coach of the Super Eagles. He bore the brunt of the blame for his team’s failure to qualify for the African Cup of Nations holding in 2012.
Kidnapping continued unabated in the country. One of the victims was the father of Chelsea midfielder, John Mikel Obi. Four serving soldiers were arrested in connection with the incident.
In August, Nigeria was treated to a comedy of sort when two retired Generals and former Heads of State described themselves as “fools”. General Ibrahim Babangida had described the 8 year-rule of Chief Obasanjo as a “waste”. Obasanjo in turn described Babangida as a “fool at 70” while the latter fired another salvo that his former boss was a “bigger fool”.
That National Judicial Council too surprised many with the suspension of Justice Ayo Salami for his refusal to apologize to the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Aloysius Katsina Alu.
The Federal Government of Nigeria too has come under severe criticism over its intention to withdraw fuel subsidy. The move has been termed “anti-people” by most Nigerians.
Many Nigerians are still trying to cope with the reality that the Super Eagles will not be at the African Cup of Nations. The team ended up drawing most of the matches it should win thereby bungling the chance of qualifying. A 2-2 home draw against Guinea was the last straw as a win would have put the Eagles through to the finals.
The Flying Eagles did not fare much better as they crashed out in the quarter finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
In the business sector, three banks, Afribank, Spring Bank and Bank PHB were nationalised. After they were taken over by the Central Bank, They became Main Street, Keystone and Enterprise Banks respectively.
Ambassador Wilcox Chijioke Wigwe, Nigeria’s envoy to Kenya was recalled after foreign media showed images that pointed in the direction that the Ambassador had battered his wife after an argument.
On the international scene, Conrad Murray, personal physician to the Late King of Pop, Michael Jackson was convicted of manslaughter and handed a 4-year jail sentence.
In Libya, the National Transitional Council came under criticisms after the death of Muammar Ghadaffi. Video footages showed the deposed leader after he was captured. He was however shot dead in yet to be explained circumstances. The same fate befell his son Mutassim. Their bodies were kept in a meat locker for days. The decomposed bodies were eventually buried in a secret location in the desert. The NTC claimed the graves might be turned into a shrine. The same NTC however found nothing wrong in putting the body up on display for days.
Many Nigerians who had thought the contact of former President Obasanjo with the family of the slain Boko Haram leader would pave way for negotiations were surprised when Baba Kura Fugu, who had spoken with the former President, was shot dead four days after. Apart from Sam Loco Efe, Nollywood also lost Donald Okoli and Geraldine Ekeocha. Not done with the entertainment industry, death snatched Osondi Owendi crooner, MC Loph on the 14th day of September while travelling for his traditional wedding ceremony.
The political class was not left out as it lost Mustain Alade Abaniwonda, a National Assembly candidate during the April elections. He fell into the Lagoon in Lagos and could not be rescued alive.
Kaduna State lost Usman Jibrin, its former Governor in 2011. Ibrahim Bapetel, a governorship candidate in Adamawa State too passed on in the third quarter of the year, likewise the Ikemba Nnewi, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu the APGA leader.
In the sports sector, Sunday Bada, a respected athlete, sports administrator and policeman collapsed and died in the National Stadium complex in Lagos on December 12.
And on the international scene, 2011 can hardly be spoken of without the deaths of the one time world’s most wanted man, Osama Bin Laden being spoken of. Former Zambian president, Fredrick Chiluba too died in 2011. It was the same story for Prof Wagani Maathai, the first African female Nobel Laureate. Libyan Leader, Muammar Ghadaffi too died while the sports family lost a former Heavyweight boxing champion, “Smoking” Joe Frazier. Apple founder, Steve Jobs too bade the world farewell.
North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il passed on on December 17, throwing the country into deep mourning.