SADNESS AND JOY
The nation was thrown into mourning on May 5 when the news of the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua was announced. President Yar'Adua died after battling ill-health for about six months at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The 58-year-old Yar'Adua suffered acute pericarditis, an inflammation of the membrane around the heart, which resulted in serious brain damage and complete loss of cognition. He was taken to King Faisal Hospital in Saudi Arabia in November last year but was later flown back into the country where he later died.
He was the 13th Head of State. He was governor of Katsina State from 29 May 29, 1999 to May 28, 2007.
In 2007, Yar'Adua was declared the winner of the most controversial Nigerian presidential election held on April 21, 2007 and was sworn in on May 29, 2007.
He became the first civilian leader in Nigeria to take over from another. The former chemistry teacher was also the first Nigerian leader in 40 years to be university educated.
Before the death of President Yar'Adua, several deaths were recorded in the Nigeria's upper legislative house. The first was Senator Idris Abubakar.
The news of his death was a shock to friends and associates. For several months, Abubakar was down with an ailment. Born in Tula, Kaltungo, in Gombe State in November 13, 1955, Senator Abubakar read Law at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where he graduated in 1978. In the Second Republic, he served briefly as a legal adviser to the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the then Bauchi State.
He represented Gombe South Senatorial district on the platform of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). His death brings to four the number of Senators who died while on active duty in the past three and half years. He had served in the House of Representatives between 1992 and 1993 during the aborted Third Republic.
The death of Senator Tawa Umbi Wada representing Gombe South Senatorial District, was yet another shocker. He died at the National Hospital, Abuja after a brief illness at the age of 53. The news of his death came few hours after the Senate confirmed Ministerial nominees. Senator Tawa Wada was the Chairman, Senate Committee.
Wada was a member of PDP. The late lawmaker, who was the spokesman of the Senate in the last session, was born on January 27, 1957. He was a lawyer and attended the University of Jos and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1983, after which he set up a private practice before he was appointed the Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice in Gombe State.
He made his mark in property development, agriculture, oil and gas. He was also an astute administrator who made impact in his constituency. He began his career as a police constable in the 1970s.
Seventy-two hours later, tragedy struck the nation's upper legislative chamber again following the death of Senator Kawa Peto Dukku. The late Senator died in Kaduna, where he had gone to see members of his family for the one-week Easter break.
Dukku represented Gombe North Senatorial District, and he died on Friday, April 2.
The death of Chief Sunday Bolorunduro Awoniyi was yet another blow in the nation's leadership. The late chairman of the Arewa Consultative Council (ACF), died in a London hospital following complications arising from a motor accident,
Chief Awoniyi, Second Republic Senator, was an administrator.
The nation's House of Representatives got its own share of grief with the death of Gbenga Elegbeleye of Akoko North West and North East. He died on August 20, 2007. Hon Gbenga had Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Ife, and his Master's degree in Public Administration.
The worst happened on October 7, 2007 when the Chairman House Committee on Health, Dr. Aminu Safana slumped and died. Safana from Katsina State collapsed during confusion in the House and was rushed to National Hospital Abuja, but could not be resuscitated. The pro-Etteh Reps member slumped in rowdy session during the crisis rocking the House of Representatives over the controversial N628 million contracts in Patricia Etteh's tenure.
Memories of the crisis that engulfed the Plateau State capital of Jos still lingers in the minds of many that witnessed it. Jos used to be known as the home of peace and tourism until 2001. About 326 died in the crisis.
The police, however, arrested 303 suspects in connection with the violence that gripped the state and 139 were taken to Abuja for questioning, according to police.
They said more suspects remained at large, including those who took part in killings that nearly wiped out a small village on the southern outskirts of Jos. Volunteers there discovered bodies shoved into communal wells and sewer dumps. Others lay dead in the bush outside the village, including victims of gunshot and machete cuts.
The police authorities also promised that those arrested would face trial in Jos. The state government had complained that those involved in previous riots later got bail in Abuja and never faced justice.
There are conflicting accounts about what caused the recent bloodshed. According to a police commissioner, skirmishes began after Muslim youths set a church ablaze, but Muslim leaders denied that, and rather said it began with an argument over the rebuilding of a Muslim home in a predominantly Christian neighbourhood that had been destroyed in November 2008.
According to reports, at least 200 people were killed in Bauchi religious crisis. The violence caused extensive damage to property, displaced over 2,400 people and left at least a dozen people dead, just three months after the initial Jos incident. In the last one year alone, Bauchi, the capital of Bauchi State, has witnessed three major religious crises which left dozens killed, several others wounded and properties worth millions of naira destroyed. In February last year, there was the Makama New Extension crisis where over four people were confirmed killed, several others wounded and buildings including a mosque and a church, destroyed.
Another crisis engulfed the Bauchi metropolis in July of the same year when some youths believed to be members of a radical Islamic sect known as Boko Haram that abhors the western way of life struck, leading to the death of over 50 people. Reports said members of the sect attacked the Dutsin Tanshi police station with locally-made weapons on a Sunday morning but were overpowered and most of them killed by security operatives. Muhammad Yusuf, the leader of the group, promised revenge in faraway Maiduguri, and a day after, they struck and hundreds of people perished, including the leader.
On Monday, December 28, 2009, another religious crisis erupted; this time round by members of a sect called Kala Kato, who practise Islam but only based on the teachings of the Holy Qur'an and not the tradition or hadith of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They do not recognise other Muslims as they do not pray along with them and refer to them as infidels.
According to the state Commissioner of Police, 28 people including the sect's leader, Badamasi Sale, and a soldier were killed. It was later reported that the death toll rose to 70 and included underage children as confirmed by the presence of dead bodies seen at the state Specialist Hospital, Bauchi. The recent crisis left several people homeless and many others injured.
However, it was not all sadness in the last three years of Nigeria's democratic rule. The news of Nigeria's qualification for the 2010 World Cup triggered jubilation in Nigeria.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria encountered what many called a miracle by qualifying for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Many thought Nigeria will be missing from the first World Cup to be held on the African soil.
But then it came to pass as the Super Eagles defeated the Harambee Stars of Kenya 3-2 in Nairobi and the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia lost 1-0 in Maputo, thus ensuring that Nigeria finished on top of the group with 12 points.
The hero of the Nigeria-Kenya match was Obafemi Martins, who scored two goals in five minutes to ensure the team's qualification.
Goodluck visits Obama
Nigeria's acting president Mr. Goodluck Jonathan has been to the US on official assignment and state visit to President Barack Obama.
Common are visits by African heads of government seeking audience with their foreign counterparts. More common are official and private visits to such western institutions as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and select think tanks and to the United Nations. In the case of Nigeria, more than half of her heads of government have visited the US and virtually all have visited the UK.
However, none of these visits were as eagerly anticipated, scrutinized and welcomed as the recently concluded trip by the then Acting President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who is now Nigeria' President as a result of the death of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua.
Jonathan's visit was not even a state visit, which is generally considered the highest form of diplomatic contact between two friendly countries. He, along with 48 heads of government and experts were invited by President Obama to attend the Nuclear Security Summit which took place in Washington DC, April 12 to 14.
For the first time in many years, it seems as the Nigerian community had a reason to be happy, to celebrate and to reaffirm their Nigerianness. For the first time in many years, it was nice being a Nigerian again. More so considering the events of the last six months.