Year 2014 was high-octane for the average Nigerian journalist. Nothing else is expected of a year preceding the presidential election of Africa’s most populous country.
It was drama-filled as well. Drama is the term to ascribe to the defection of a country’s fourth most senior official from the ruling party to the opposition party. TheCable thrust itself into the drama early enough, exclusively reporting Aminu Tambuwal’s defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) far before the speaker confirmed it to the federal house of representatives.
There was the thrilling presidential primary of APC, which produced Muhammadu Buhari a former general and three-time presidential aspirant, as the party’s candidate.
From the emergence of Akinwunmi Ambode as Lagos governorship candidate (long predicted by TheCable), the firing and rehiring of Stephen Kesi as Super Eagles coach, to the death of Dora Akunyili, unarguably one of the most loved public officials ever in the history of the country, here is a rundown of how TheCable reported the biggest stories of 2014.
A GOVERNORSHIP CANDIDATE LONG PREDICTED
In ‘The man who would be next Lagos governor’, we reported on April 29, 2014, that Akinwunmi Ambode, erstwhile accountant-general of Lagos state, was fovourite to become governor, in the event that his party, APC, wins the election.
Seven months on, Akinwunmi is not yet governor but he has already won the party’s Lagos state primary to emerge its candidate for the 2015 election. If APC wins next year, Ambode is governor – as TheCable predicted.
ANITA AND CHRIS OYAKHILOME DIVORCE SUIT
It’s not the kind of story any conscientious journalist sends to his editor and then bolts to the beer parlour on a merrymaking spree. In mid-2014, TheCable exclusively obtained documents from the Central Family Court, First Avenue House, High Holborn, London, United Kingdom, which showed that Reverend Anita Odegwa Oyakhilome had filed a law suit against her husband and founder of Christ Embassy Church, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome. On August 29, 2014, we ran the story.
Anita’s case for divorce were “unreasonable behaviour” and “adultery” (inappropriate relationships with members of staff).
Oyakhilome was mum on the allegations for more than a week; and when he spoke, he denied his wife’s accusations, branding all that had been written about him as “crazy”.
In September, TheCable reported, exclusively again, that after failing in his bid to stall the suit, Oyakhilome was assembling his legal team for defence.
The fall of the Oyakhilomes is the fall of the church; their rise is the church’s, as well. Our hopes and prayers are the resuscitation of this once-blissful marriage. In 2015, we earnestly wish to report that the lawsuit has been withdrawn and the couple are back together. But then, that is Pastor Anita’s call!
THE GRAND EBOLA BATTLE
On Friday, July 25, 2014, we reported that Nigeria was facing a potentially deadly crisis, following the death of Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian who initially got us all to believe he was in Nigeria for a conference. In the end, the crisis was deadlier than we had imagined. And a lot had happened, too, that the public did not know. One by one, we began to unearth them.
On August 4, we reported that one of the doctors who attended to Sawyer – later discovered to be Dr. Stella Adadevoh – had contracted the virus from him. Within 10 days, three Nigerians who had contact with Sawyer had died. Sawyer deliberately infected them.
We then uncovered, on August 9, how an official of the Liberian embassy in Nigeria, attempted to force First Consultants Hospital to release Sawyer, whom Jonathan would later angrily describe as “the crazy man”. If that had happened, Nigeria would surely still be battling the viral disease by now. That Liberian official was eventually recalled.
On September 24, we reported the confirmation of Onyebuchi Chukwu, the then health minister, that there was no longer any Ebola case in the country. Finally, on October 20, after a mandatory 42-day (two incubation cycles of the virus) wait, the World Health Organisation officially declared Nigeria Ebola-free.
In September, while waiting for the WHO, we published the touching account of Dr. Ada Igonoh’s battle (and survival) with Ebola. It is one of the most riveting, emotion-tingling real-life stories anyone would read anywhere in the world!
In all, 20 people contracted Ebola in the country. While 12 survived, the remaining eight died. Nigeria’s victory over Ebola was globally recognised. A rare plus!
TAMBUWAL AND HIS AIDES
In the early hours of October 30, we broke the news that security aides to Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the federal house of representatives, were about to be withdrawn. It happened a few hours later. On Monday October 20, 2014, Tambuwal had registered as a member of opposition APC, effectively ending his membership of the ruling party. TheCable reported it, despite a statement from Imam Imam, the speaker’s aide, discountenancing reports of the defection.
Sensing a potential “political and legal” onslaught from his former party, Tambuwal soft-pedalled on the official announcement of his defection, but we didn’t recant our confirmation of his defection.
While Tambuwal was busy refraining from officially confirming his defection, TheCable was occupied with analysing the provisions of the law on his status as speaker or member of the house. In THE QUESTION: Can Tambuwal remain speaker? published on October 21, the constitutional procedures for the removal of a speaker were considered.
Finally, on October 28 – eight days after he actually joined APC – Tambuwal announced his decision to parliamentarians. But, strategically, he made the announcement only after the plenary, and after he had secured adjournment of the house to December 3!
A PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY TO REMEMBER
There are primaries, and there are primaries. Just like it has been predicted that the 2015 presidential election could be the most keenly contested in the nation’s history, it was unsurprising that the lead-up to the emergence of the presidential candidate was intriguing. PDP had little excitement to offer. As far back as in September, it had named Jonathan its sole candidate for the election. It was settled.
But APC had a battle in its hands. It wanted to stage a primary, yet it wanted all aspirants to unite behind the eventual winner. It knew – and everyone knew – that should it be rocked by post-primary rancour, it stood no chance against the all-conquering presidential machinery of PDP. The heavyweights were deemed Muhammadu Buhari, who has contested every presidential election since 2003; and Atiku Abubakar, ex-vice president. But Rabiu Kwankwaso, governor of Kano; Rochas Okorocha; governor of Imo; and Sam Ndah-Isiaih, publisher of Leadership Newspaper, were also in the running.
On December 10, APC held a primary election for all five. If there was an award for the singular most-followed political event of 2014, surely, it would be this primary. TheCable treated it with no less seriousness. For the 22 hours that the primary lasted, we provided blow-by-blow updates, even in the dead of the night when some of the candidates and party leaders excused themselves to catch some sleep! And this was immediately followed by an extensive analysis of why Buhari won, defeating Kwankwaso – not Atiku, as widely expected – in second place.
TheCable’s readers so loved the coverage that some of them took advantage of the comment section to praise the team. One reader, Lawrence Ikem Fejokwu, particularly went the extra mile of sending a mail of commendation to the editor.
“Dear Editor, Just a quick note to commend you on the professionalism, thoroughness and comprehensiveness of your coverage. In particular, your non-stop coverage of the APC primaries with live multimedia updates is simply incredible! Given the constraints of technology in Nigeria, this coverage is even more impressive,” he wrote.
“I commend you and your team for the great work. I will continue to visit the website daily and pray you and your team will meet with great success as a reward for your superb work. Please share my commendation with members of your team, particularly those directly responsible for the live coverage of the APC presidential primary held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium. Kudos!”
Nothing more to add.