Few hours from now, 2019 will be over. The year has been very eventful, full of intrigues, suspense and debacles. Being a political year made it more exciting as several heavyweights in the political arena were deflated and rendered useless.
There were many debacles in 2019. Some bigwigs aspiring for greatness suddenly met their Waterloo. They become the biggest losers of the outgoing year. These are:
I. Atiku Abubakar
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar appears to be the biggest loser of 2019. Atiku, who was one of those instrumental for the emergence of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, suddenly quit the All Progressives Congress, APC, and returned to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, where he launched his presidential ambition to unseat the incumbent, Buhari. He was so sure of winning, especially when the masses were disenchanted with the Buhari’s government. The APC’s campaign slogan hammered on Atiku’s ‘corruptness’ to persuade Nigerians not to vote him. The former Vice President was dubbed not being able to travel to US, but somehow, he did go to the US to the consternation of all.
The election was held on 23 February, 2019. Buhari was re-elected for a second time after defeating Atiku. Buhari won by polling 15,191,847 of the total votes cast while Atiku gained 11,262,978 votes, an astonishing victory margin of 3,928,869 votes. Atiku rejected the outcome of the election and challenged Buhari at the Presidential Election Tribunal. Atiku’s hope was hinged on a so called ‘INEC server’, which electoral results were transmitted, declaring him winner. He was embarrassed at the Tribunal as his star witness said he had never seen the server, but was told of its existence. The tribunal struck out all of Atiku’s appeal and declared Buhari duly elected. The five-man panel of the tribunal, chaired by Justice Mohammed Garba unanimously agreed that Buhari was duly elected.
Not satisfied, Atiku approached the Supreme Court for redress. On October 30, the Supreme Court dismissed appeal challenging Buhari’s victory at the Feb.23 general election. Delivery judgment, Justice Tanko Mohammad, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) led other six justices to unanimously dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
“We have examined all the briefs and exhibits for over two weeks and we have agreed that there is no merit in this appeal. The appeal is hereby dismissed and reasons for our decision would be given on a date to be announced,” Mohammad held.
The Supreme Court’s judgment sealed Atiku’s fate, capping a horrendous 2019 for him. He is by far the biggest loser of 2019.
2. Bukola Saraki
Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki certainly had a bad year. He was soaring before the February 23 general election. He had in the previous year led a ‘rebel’ group out of the APC to the PDP. He was dubbed the king of Kwara politics and had remained invincible. From the pinnacle of success, he was brought low in 2019 as he lost election to retain his seat in the Senate from Kwara Central on the platform of PDP. Saraki lost to Dr. Oloriegbe of the APC. Oloriegbe polled a total of 123,808 votes to defeat the Senate President who scored 68,994 votes in the four local governments of Kwara Central Senatorial District.
Before the election, Lai Mohammed and others had ridden on the ‘Otoge’ mantra to root Saraki out of relevance in Kwara politics. For the first time in decades, the influence of Saraki’s dynasty was eroded in Kwara State. PDP lost everything to the APC. It was a clean sweep that swept Saraki out of Kwara politics. He is still reeling from his loss and has not fully recovered from the reality of the debacle.
3. Dino Melaye
For Dino Melaye, erstwhile Senator, representing Kogi West Senatorial District at the National Assembly, 2019 is a year that will linger in his memory. It is a year where almost all things failed to work for him, in fact, he met several Waterloos and debacles and crowns a calamitous year, as he was dumped out of the Senate.
He had begun 2019 on a promising note, winning the Senatorial election that made him eligible for a second term in the upper chamber of the National Assembly. But since then, things began to degenerate for him. Despite his social media prowess and his garrulousness, he could not salvage anything for himself in 2019.
The lawmaker, having won a return to the Senate later lost the position. The Election Tribunal in Lokoja, Kogi State, nullified Melaye’s election on August 23, 2019. The tribunal ordered a fresh election to be conducted in the senatorial district. Melaye’s closest rival, Smart Adeyemi of the APC, had challenged his victory at the tribunal.
With his debacle at the PDP Kogi governorship primary election, Melaye’s only hope was to ensure that his seat at the senate did not slip. He had to win the Appeal to remain relevant. But the sad news came on October 11, 2019, when the Appeal Court affirmed the decision of the Kogi Election Petition Tribunal nullifying his election.
The court ordered the conduct of a fresh election in the zone. Melaye was dragged to the tribunal by Adeyemi. In the now annulled election, Melaye polled 85,395 votes, while Adeyemi scored 66,902 votes. But Adeyemi challenged Melaye’s victory on three grounds of irregularities, over-voting and non-compliance with the Electoral Act. In a split judgment, the tribunal annulled the election and ordered another election in the senatorial district.
In the re-run election held on November 16, 2019, Adeyemi was leading with a convincing over 20,000 votes when the election was declared inconclusive and a supplementary election fixed for November 30. At the end of the election, Melaye’s fate was sealed.
The Returning Officer of the election, Professor Olajide Lawal, said Adeyemi, who represented the district from 2007-2015, polled 88,373 votes to beat Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who scored 62,133 votes. His supposed political wife had thrashed him convincingly, even though he rubbished the election over alleged electoral malpractice and vowed to challenged the outcome in court.
4. Shehu Sani
Senator Shehu Sani was another big loser in 2019. The former senator, who represented Kaduna Central Senatorial District under the APC, suddenly defected to Peoples Redemption Party, PRP, after series of running battle with the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai. Sani sought re-election to the senate under PRP, but he was soundly defeated.
Malam Uba Sani of the All Progressives Congress (APC) won the election with 355,242 votes in the Feb. 23 general elections, while his closest rival, Lawal Adamu of the PDP scored 195,497 votes. Sani scored 70,613 votes to come third. He approached the election tribunal and lost.
5. Akinwunmi Ambode
Former Governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode will never forget 2019. Having lost out in a bid to get a second term ticket, he was taunted to be named minister by President Buhari. His followers were jubilating and preparing for the next level in Abuja. All of a sudden, Buhari omitted his name. He fell prey to high level politics. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was used to hound him.
6. Orji Kalu
Senator Orji Kalu began 2019 on a promising note, he won the senatorial election for Abia North Senatorial District and was even sworn in a senator. His world caved in when the Federal High Court sitting Lagos on 5 December, 2019 found him guilty of N7.56bn fraud.
The former Abia State Governor was found guilty alongside two others, which are his firm, Slok Nigeria Limited and Udeh Udeogu, who was Director of Finance and Accounts at the Abia State Government House during Kalu’s tenure as governor.
He was sentenced to 12 years imprisonment. He appealed the judgment, but still in prison pending the appeal. His last move to get a post bail to allow him get out of prison to attend to his ailing health was rejected. It was a bad year for Kalu. The EFCC had also gone to mark his properties in a bid to take them over.
Note: There are still many others which were not captured and you may know