Pulse List 2019: 10 most controversial Nigerian politicians of 2019
From Melaye to Jonathan, here are controversial politicians of 2019.
Politicians did their best to retain power. Those out of power tried to remain visible for the public to continue to notice them. And on a lighter note, a governor christened his budget with complex words (like he’s consistently done since he was first elected) many Nigerians are still trying to understand.
In no particular order, here are the 10 most controversial politicians in Nigeria in 2019.
Over the years, Dino Melaye has cut a figure that is more associated with controversy than politics, and in 2019, he gave Nigerians enough antics to talk about.
In January, Melaye refused to surrender to the police following an allegation that he shot and almost killed a police officer at a checkpoint in Kogi, on July 19, 2018.
After laying siege to his apartment in Abuja for days, the controversial senator surrendered to the police on January 4, 2019, after fellow lawmakers persuaded him to resolve the situation with the police amicably.
Not done with his antics, after surrendering, Melaye developed an ailment to perpetually keep himself in ‘sick bed’ to prevent trial. The Police medical team had to give him a clean bill of health and then transferred him from an Abuja hospital to the DSS medical facility.
On getting to the DSS hospital, the ‘ailing’ Melaye refused to enter the main building of the centre. The viral photos of Melaye sleeping on the floor within the premises of the DSS hospital painted a picture of a man who enjoys being at the centre of controversies.
In September, when the court resumed his criminal trial, the ex-Kogi West senator showed up like a stroke patient. He was assisted into the courtroom by two aides, who told the court that the senator could not walk.
Melaye’s endless drama hit its climax in November when he lost the rerun of the Kogi West senatorial election to Smart Adeyemi, who he refers to as his political wife.
Senator Elisha Abbo
After the general election of February, every Nigerian seemed to be pleased to have a young man like Senator Elisha Abbo in the senate. At 41, Abbo is the youngest in the midst of politicians in their 60s and 70s.
However, barely a month after he was sworn-in, the senator representing Adamawa North became the subject of an unpleasant topic that earned him the nickname ‘Slapping Senator.”
Abbo was caught on camera repeatedly assaulting a nursing mother during an altercation inside a sex toy shop in Abuja.
In the space of one week, Abbo embroiled himself in another controversy when he had an altercation with Mrs Remi Tinubu, a member of the Senate ad hoc committee investigating the incident between him and the nursing mother.
Tinubu had advised Abbo to comply with the rules of the committee or get suspended after the senator refused to swear an oath. Irked by the statement, Abbo lost it, saying, “I will not sit here and listen to you threaten me with suspension. I am a senator like you. You cannot threaten me with suspension.”
The National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole kicked off the year with a controversial statement at a campaign rally on Thursday, January 17, 2019, in Edo state.
While speaking at the rally, Oshiomhole assured politicians, who dumped PDP for APC that once they joined the ruling party, all their sins are forgiven. “And, in fact, once you’ve joined APC, all your sins are forgiven,” he said.
In September, the former Governor of Edo State picked a fight with his successor, Godwin Obaseki, accusing him of sacking the only commissioner he nominated in his cabinet.
The supremacy battle between Oshiomhole and Obaseki has split the ruling party in Edo state and despite the split, the party’s national chairman is not willing to back down.
Abdul Aziz Yari
Throughout his eight years as Governor of Zamfara State, Abdul-Aziz Yari has never been in the news for controversies like he did in 2019.
Yari trended online for too many wrong reasons in 2019. It all started when a faction of the APC in Zamfara sacked the ex-governor for scuttling the party’s chances ahead of the governorship contest.
Yari was accused of frustrating APC’s effort to conduct a primary in 2018.
Due to the increasing spate of killings and kidnapping in Zamfara, residents of the state took to the streets of Abuja to protest in April. During the protest, broadcast journalist and media entrepreneur, Kadaria Ahmed described Yari as the most useless governor in the history of Nigeria.
In November, Yari became the talk of the town again when he wrote a letter to his successor, Bello Matawalle, demanding payment of N10 million monthly allowance and a pension equivalent to the salary he was receiving while in office.
Since he ended his tenure in 2007, former president Olusegun Obasanjo has assigned himself the duty of attacking and advising successive administrations through open letters.
In his usual manner, Obasanjo in January wrote an open letter to Buhari to express what he thought about the president’s poor knowledge of the economy. He also tore into Buhari over the herdsmen crisis. In the letter, he described him as sectional and nepotistic leader.
Again in January, Obasanjo threw his weight behind a man he had on many occasions painted black. Ahead of the February 23 election, the former president urged Nigerians to vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, saying he would perform two times better than Buhari if he wins the election.
In the same month, OBJ attacked Vice President Osinbajo, who was touring markets across the country and handing out N10,000 to petty traders.
‘Baba Iyabo’ as he’s fondly called, said it was absurd to see a learned and enlightened person like Osinbajo at various markets, distributing N10,000 each to market women.
The most controversial moment for the ex-president arrived when he delivered a lecture at the second session of the Seventh Synod of the Anglican Communion, Oleh Diocese, in Delta State. At the event, Obasanjo said Boko Haram and herdsmen are planning to Islamise Nigeria and Africa.
Six months after his open letter, the former president was already itching to write another letter following the murder of Mrs Funke Olakunrin, daughter of Afenifere leader, Pa Reuben Fasoranti, who was allegedly killed by herdsmen in Ondo State in May.
In his second letter to Buhari, OBJ expressed his worry over activities of Boko Haram, herdsmen and reprisal attacks, warning that violent uprising in the country may lead to a full blown war.
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State would have had a controversy-free year if he had not attended a crusade organised by the Lord’s Chosen Charismatic Church in Port Harcourt in June.
At the crusade, Wike declared that Rivers State belongs to Christians.
He said, “Rivers is a Christian state and cannot be touched by anyone. I repeat once again without apologies, Rivers is a Christian state. That is why nobody can touch us.”
The governor’s controversial statement became a point of reference in August when he allegedly demolished the Rainbow Town Central Mosque located at the Trans-Amadi area of Port Harcourt.
The alleged demolition stoked religious tension in the country and that was all because of his earlier statement about Rivers being a Christian state.
Those who think Yahaya Bello would make a big difference governing a state because he’s young, may have made a mistake. The White Lion as he’s fondly called, enmeshed himself in controversies than in governance in 2019.
The Bello administration is a story of non-payment of salaries and lack of respect for workers in the state.
Bello would have had serious problems getting re-elected if his administration had not received a N30.8 billion bailout fund from the federal government on the eve of the election to clear workers’ salaries.
Also, the rivalry between Yahaya Bello and Senator Dino Melaye got him more news headlines than his performance as a governor.
The youngest governor in the country finds it difficult to ignore Melaye each time the controversial senator takes a dig at him. Behaving like overgrown babies, the two utilized all avenues to rain dirt and mud on themselves whenever they had the chance to.
Cross River Governor Ben Ayade has mastered the art of embracing controversies through budget presentations. In 2018, he signed a N1.3trn budget into law while sobbing like a baby.
Ayade also supervised the arrest of journalist Agba Jalingo from Lagos. The journalist remains in detention in the Cross River State capital of Calabar. Ayade accuses Jalingo of trying to overthrow his government.
In 2019, the governor got Nigerians talking more about the bombasts with which he tagged the state budgets than the content and substance of the budgets.
Earlier in the year, Ayade presented a budget tagged ‘Qabalistic Densification’. He said, “The 2019 budget of N1.043 trillion is meant to shift Cross River from the third world to the first world”.
In November 2019, the governor presented the 2020 budget, and due to his love for bombast, he tagged it Olimpotic meristemasis. Whatever this has to do with the state’s budget is best known to Prof Ben Ayade.
For context, the following is how Ayade has christened his annual budgets since 2016:
2016: Budget of Deep Vision.
2017: Budget of Infinite Transposition.
2018: Budget of Kinetic Crystallization.
2019: Budget of Qabalistic Densification.
2020: Budget of Olimpotic Meristemasis.
A hot mess, this man.
Shehu Sani is the most expressive Nigerian politician on Twitter. The former senator who represented Kaduna Central, reacts to almost everything that trends on the social media platform.
In September, Sani said some lawmakers frustrated him for disclosing his income as senator. The ex-senator also said that a female lawmaker accused him of causing problems between her and her husband because he publicized lawmakers’ earnings.
Nigeria’s former president, Goodluck Jonathan, has the appearance of a complete gentleman. This undoubtedly reflects in his political career.
Since he lost the presidential election to Buhari in 2015, Jonathan has been keeping a low profile. He hardly comments on national issues except when it really matters.
However, in November 2019, Jonathan was caught in a controversy that got him ridiculed by members of his party, who accused him of betraying the party in Bayelsa State.
Since 1999, Bayelsa has overwhelmingly voted PDP. No opposition party has ever been able to win a local government in the state, but the APC swept the state in the November 2019 governorship election.
After the APC candidate David Lyon was announced winner of the gubernatorial election, APC members paid Jonathan an appreciation visit at his residence in Otuoke.
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