Politics is like boxing. There are challengers and there are champions. But champions don’t remain champions forever as long as challengers remain relentless; reaching for the crown, plotting to kick champions out of the throne.
In 2016 some politicians lost turf to challengers and saw their influence rolled back. In politics it is all about constant scheming and friends aren’t usually what they appeared to be so to remain relevant one has to constantly watch one’s own back.
Below are three politicians that took hits and lost miles of influence and power.
Bola Tinubu was undoubtedly the politician that took the most hit in the year. The Jagaban Borgu, as he is fondly called by his supporters, is arguably the single most important politician during the campaign leading to the 2015 election. He almost single-handedly punctured the second term ambition of former President, Goodluck Jonathan as he resisted the spirited effort of the PDP to take majority votes in the South West.
The Machiavelli of Nigerian politic soon started to see his influence take a beating immediately after the historic win of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the party he had helped put together. In fact, Lovablevibes was among the first media houses to predict Tinubu’s fall from grace.
In 2016, his fall continued as all his efforts to remove Senate President Bukola Saraki, and replaced him with his own man, failed.
In fact, his influence within the party suffered. He could not make his protégé, Olusola Oke, the party’s candidate in the Ondo State election as he was out-schemed by John Oyegun, whom he helped become the chairman of the party. To add salt to injury, he was humiliated both in the party’s primary and during the election proper (Olusola Oke decamped and became the candidate for the Alliance for Democracy but still came a distant third in the election) by a former protégé, Rotimi Akeredolu.
There were rumours that he was planning to leave the party but he later resorted to eating a healthy amount of humble pie when he decided to stay and fight his way up again. He is a fighter. But repeated defeat after a long spell of invincibility can be devastating. We may never see Tinubu up there again.
In Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi was king of the jungle. But after his decision to challenge Jonathan through the former first lady, Patience Jonathan, he started seeing his influence eroding in the state.
In terms of local support, his decision to bankroll the campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari, who is largely unpopular in the South South, cost him enormously. Judging by re-run elections, held in Rivers state this year where the APC lost in almost every constituency they contested, it is clear that the raging inferno that was Amaechi has now been reduced to a flickering flame.
To make matters worse, he was handed the beat down by his former protégé, Nyesom Wike.
Politics in Nigeria is largely a gerontocracy; Old men holding sway in government. But Abdulmumin is an exception. He is young and rose quickly to positions of relative prominence.
The self-acclaimed anti-corruption crusader attempted to cook the goose of the principal officers in the green chamber but got his fingers burnt in the process. He went public regarding the padding of the 2016 budget, allegedly exposing dirty secrets of the leadership of the House of Representatives. But little did he know that he was cutting his own throat. He had banked on the support of President Buhari who was seen as an anti-corruption Czar and other members of the house. But he soon found himself alone and out in the cold.
His revelations about the alleged impropriety by the leadership of the house regarding the budget padding created a big talking point during the year. But it backfired when the house committee on ethics and privileges which had been given the mandate to investigate Jibrin’s alleged breach of House rules and sundry acts of misconduct came up with a recommendation which among other things led to his being suspended for 180 days without salaries, emoluments and other benefits enjoyed by legislators.