2019 in Retrospect: Top 10 Major Highlights of 2019 in Nigeria

Happy New Year guys!

Looking back, we agree with you that 2019 is one of the most controversial and dramatic years Nigerians have seen in recent times. Wherever you turned in the just concluded year, there was one drama or the other. From politics to entertainment, sports to lifestyle; there was always something to talk about.

But which were the most controversial? Which topics were always at the front burner and which got people talking the most?

We went back in time to pull out all the major events of 2019. We scanned from January to December, our drones reviewing events in sports, politics, entertainment, social media and lifestyle. This means that we had more than enough to work with and our list only has space for 10. So we had to employ the following criteria to arrive at a final list:

  • Twitter trend (duration and frequency)
  • Google search trend (frequency)
  • The social, economic and political impact
  • Proximity

Now let’s get to it – here are the top 10 major highlights of 2019 in Nigeria:

  1. 2019 General Elections

2019 is the year of general elections in Nigeria. The 2019 election is the 6th since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999.

APC was on a mission to retain power while PDP wanted to return to power having lost to APC in 2015. It was clearly a two-horse race for the presidency and even most of the gubernatorial positions.

However, some young Nigerians also contended for the number one citizen seat, polling impressive figures at the polls. Notable among them are Omoyele Sowore, Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye and Donald Duke.

As with every other election in the country, the 2019 general elections was the topic of discussion everywhere in the country. Campaigns, debates, rallies and other forms of publicity employed by various candidates helped ensure that the election was the topic on every Nigerian’s lips in the build-up to it.

The elections commenced on the 23rd of February and today we all know the results. President Buhari won the presidential election and his party, APC, won the majority of the seats at the National Assembly. Whether or not that is good for our democracy is a discussion for another day.

Being the event that brought into power the latest crop of leaders (though they are not exactly new faces), the 2019 general elections takes the number one spot on our list of top 10 highlights of 2019 in Nigeria.

  1. Sowore vs DSS

Omoyele Sowore

The nation woke up on August 3rd to the news of Omoyele Sowore’s arrest by the DSS. His offence was calling for a protest against bad governance in the country.

Sowore is the owner of the online news publishing platform, Sahara Reporters. He is also the national chairman of The African Action Alliance (AAC) and was the party’s flag bearer in the 2019 presidential election.

His arrest raised so much dust in the social and political space as many argued that the right to protest is a fundamental human right in most countries of the world, Nigeria inclusive. His case became even more worrisome when DSS (FG) refused to release him despite court orders demanding his release.

The case took a new twist on December 5th when the DSS released him, only to re-arrest him less than 24 hours later in a controversial manner.

He was eventually released on the 24th of December following what looked like a threat from the government of the United States.

The conversations this event generated on local and international media put it on the second spot on our list.

  1. Social Media and Hate Speech Bill

This is one of the most recent developments on our list, but considering its implication on all of us, there is no denying its deserving of a top spot.

The social media went ‘crazy‘ on November 5th when it became known to the public that the upper chamber of the National Assembly had the first reading of a bill to regulate internet use in Nigeria.

According to BBC News Pidgin, the #SayNoToSocialMediaBill hashtag trended on Twitter for more than two weeks.

While the two bills are not the same, Nigerians, especially on social media, have unanimously said no to both bills saying it’s an attempt to deny Nigerians their fundamental rights to freedom of expression.

As part of reactions to the bill, a Nigerian went as far creating an app and uploaded on Google Play Store. He called it ‘Let Them Know’ and it has the names of all Senators, their phone numbers and email addresses so Nigerians can reach them and express their opposition to the bill.

Another organization has a website called ‘Shine Your Eye’ and it has the contacts of House of Representatives members with the same aim as above.

  1. Biodun Fatoyinbo vs Bukola Dakolo

Since time immemorial, rape has always been a controversial topic. How do you establish that a rape has occurred? How do you get a witness? All of these and many more are the questions to be answered whenever there is a rape allegation.

On the 27th of June, Nigerians woke up to see Bukola Dakolo’s interview with Chudiety where she revealed how she was allegedly raped by COZA senior pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo. That opened the flood gate of conversations, argument and side-taking.

Why would she lie? What does she stand to gain lying against him? Of all the people in the world, why would she choose to lie against him? This is not the first time someone will accuse him of such, so isn’t it obvious he is guilty? These are some of the arguments in support of the accuser, Busola Dakolo.

Why will a man of God do such a thing? Why did it take her so long? There are some loopholes in that story – for instance, where was everybody in her house when he was raping her?” These are some of the cases made in favour of the accused ‘man of God’.

The truth of what actually transpired is not known to us. However, what we do know for sure is the fact that this topic got all and sundry talking in 2019, with many believing Busola Dakolo’s side of the story.

  1. 37 Billion Naira to Renovate National Assembly Complex

Wait, what!? 37 billion Naira to renovate the whole of Abuja? No? Just the national assembly would swallow 37 billion naira? And Nigeria is broke?

This is still an ongoing discussion and it would go on for some time. However, what is obvious from the duration it has lasted is Nigeria’s complete disgust to it.

Two House of Rep members, Bamidele Salam and Akin Alabi, have come out to distance themselves from the development saying they will challenge it when the house reconvenes. While this is a welcome development, one wonders why they didn’t say all that before the bill was signed.

  1. Xenophobia Attacks in South Africa

Again, Nigerians in South Africa were targets of attacks by South Africans in 2019 in what was another case of Xenophobia.

While we were not in South Africa and cannot ascertain what exactly is the cause of the attacks, what we do know from multiple sources on social media is that some Nigerians and other Africans were killed in series of attacks in the country.

There were accusations and counter-accusations; denials and further accusations. Many Nigerians have loved ones in this country so the outrages were understandable.

Indigenous airline operator, Air Peace went ahead to evacuate willing Nigerians out of South Africa free of charge. As one would expect, some people accepted the offer and others chose to stay back in the country.

The attacks resulted in online fights between celebrities from the two countries. Notable among such fights was between Nigeria’s music sensation, Burna Boy and his South African counterpart, AKA. Though these two have history having worked together in the past, they left the past behind as they both came for each other “in the eyes of carton”.

African rap legend and Nigerian, MI tried to play the role of peacemaker but Burna wasn’t having any of that, ‘dragging’ the rapper in the process.

Some South Africans argued that the alleged attack videos spreading on the internet are not recent, but who cares? Old or new, what’s consistent is the fact people are being killed for no just cause, an act that should be condemned by everyone.

  1. The Rise and Rise of Naira Marley

Naira Marley

Azeez Fashola, popularly known as Naira Marley is arguably Nigerian artist of the year 2019 in terms of fan base and influence.

Someone succinctly compared his sudden rise to that of one who came in through the window while many queue at the door.

Many Nigerians heard the name Naira Marley first in 2017 when he released his single Issa Goal, a song seemingly dedicated to the Super Eagles of Nigeria. He featured Olamide and Lil Kesh so it came as no surprise the massive acceptance it got.

For many, that was supposed to be it. Naira Marley was supposed to go on and become another one-hit-wonder but ‘baba’ has other plans.

He came back to our faces when Nigerian songstress, Simi spoke against internet fraud, saying it’s denting the image of Nigeria. Naira Marley wasn’t having any of that and wasted no time voicing his support for what we all know as yahoo yahoo. He insisted that slave trade perfectly justifies internet fraud.

This led to days of debate on social media with Nigerian youths divided on whether or not fraud is right. Seriously?!

While that was ongoing, Naira Marley summoned his “brother” Zlatan and the duo dropped a song on the topic, they titled it “Am I a Yahoo Boy?” The song clearly glorified internet fraud and he also used the opportunity to drop what many believed was a jibe at Simi i.e “Simi see trouble…”.

Honestly, Naira Marley’s story this year is too long for this space. The summary of it is that he was arrested, released after weeks, went on to release street bangers and now has one of the most loyal fan bases in Nigeria. They call themselves Marlians.

Like a Twitter user rightly puts it, you will either hate or love him, but you sure can’t ignore him.

  1. MI vs Vector Beef

MI is the most successful/decorated Nigerian rapper, and arguably the most successful in Africa. Vector too has paid his dues and he is definitely the best freestyler the country has ever seen. These two went head to head this year reminding us all what the rap culture is about.

It’s not clear who drew the first blood as their beef go way back.

The highlight of the beef is definitely the last tracks from each of them – The Viper by MI and Judas the Rat by Vector. In each of the tracks, the two rappers came with their A-game lyrically, exposing each other’s flaws (and the fans loved it).

No one would forget though how MI went as far as performing his own diss track on the stage of Big Brother Naija finale rocking a T-Shirt with the texts No Snakes. That definitely got us all talking – no one saw it coming.

Who won the diss? You be the judge of that.

  1. AFCON 2019

Nigerians don’t joke with football. We love the beautiful game and always come all out to support our favourite teams. Though the Super Eagles break our hearts most of the times, we come to every tournament with renewed hope that they’d bring home the trophy.

The Nations’ Cup was an exciting one with a lot of promising talents on display. For once, it looks like the future is great for the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

The victory over South Africa was probably the highlight of the tournament for most Nigerians for obvious reasons. And of course, the saddest moment for all of us would be when Riyad Mahrez fired in that close range free-kick at the last minute to eliminate the Super Eagles from the tournament.

  1. Big Brother Naija

Big Brother Naija

Big Brother Naija is probably the most followed TV show this year in Africa. The reality TV show this season was tagged “Pepper Dem” and indeed we had more than enough pepper to deal with.

This time last year, most of us didn’t know an entity called Tacha existed. Today it’s almost impossible to not know her, thanks to her dedicated fan-base known as Titans. Tacha is definitely the most talked about housemate in the last Big Brother Naija, despite being disqualified for ‘wrong-doing’.

Other housemates that got us all glued to our TV while the show lasted include the eventual winner, Mercy, then Mike, Seyi, Ike, Frodd, Khafi, Esther, Tuoyo and a host of others.

 

Notable mentions
  • Sex for grades documentary by Kiki Emodi
  • Genevieve Nnaji’s Lionheart vs Oscars
  • Burna Boy Nominated for Grammy
  • Rising Stars: Rema, Fireboy DML, Joeboy and Oxlade
  • Anthony Joshua vs Andy Ruiz
  • Pamilerin vs Peruzzi

 

If you could re-arrange the list, which would be your number one? And did we miss any major event? Tell us here.

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