General elections, naira redesign, other key moments that defined Nigeria’s 2023

For Nigerians, 2023 would become one of the most remarkable years in recent memory in terms of defining moments and major events.

For Nigerians, 2023 would become one of the most remarkable years in recent memory in terms of defining moments and major events; some are cheery, while some are not very pleasant.

This is just as there were significant global events that highlighted 2023. The News Agency of Nigeria takes a look at some of them:

2023 general elections

Following interesting events that preceded the polls, many believed it would go down as the most anticipated election cycle since democracy returned in 1999.

Perhaps the fact that it was the first time since 1999 that three major frontrunners contested to become the country’s president added to the anticipation.

The election lived up to its build-up, as Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party and Peter Obi of the Labour Party won in 12 states each.

Mr Tinubu was declared the winner with 8,794,726 votes; Mr Abubakar came second with 6,984,520 votes, while Mr Obi scored 6,101,533 to come third.

One political analyst said the 2023 election was the most consequential in the history of Nigeria since 1999.

As expected, post-presidential election litigation went up to the Supreme Court, which affirmed Mr Tinubu’s victory.

Naira redesign 

Although a spillover from 2022 when the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) announced the introduction of redesigned N200, N500 and N1,000 banknotes, its impact was most felt in 2023.

The policy was greeted with public anger and frustration as the new notes were unavailable while the apex bank mopped up the old ones.

There also were political undercurrents in the implementation of the policy, leading to the Supreme Court issuing an interim order for the policy to be halted.

Many economists and financial experts termed the naira redesign policy the worst economic policy ever implemented in Nigeria since the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was introduced in 1986.

Japa: Mass emigration of Nigerians

Before 2023, Nigeria experienced mass relocation of professionals and students, often young, who used the study and work permit routes to migrate abroad in search of better lives.

While they travelled to Canada, the United States, and other Western countries, the UK was the most common choice, especially for those using the study route.

However, in May 2023, the UK government said that from January 2024, international students would not be permitted to bring family members with them.

Sensing that the purpose is defeated with that policy, 2023 witnessed the highest relocation of Nigerians to the UK through that specific study route that enables them to take their family along.

The migration pattern, now called “japa”, has left the country grappling with the shortage of certain professionals in the health, financial services, education, telecom/ICT sectors, etc.

Osimhen, Oshoala: African football king, queen

Following his exploit with his Seria A club Napoli in the 2022-23 season, Nigeria’s striker Victor Osimhen was named African Footballer of the Year at a ceremony in Marrakech on December 11, 2023.

Osimhen scored 26 goals to help Napoli to a surprise triumph in Serie A last season and was the leading goal scorer in Italy’s top division.

He beat Egypt’s Liverpool forward Mohammed Salah and Morocco’s Paris St Germain right-back Achraf Hakimi to the award, making him the first Nigerian winner since Nwankwo Kanu in 1999.

In the women’s category, Asisat Oshoala won the top prize for a record sixth time.

Hilda Baci’s Guinness World Record

In June 2023, the Guinness World Records (GWR) confirmed that Hilda Effiong Bassey, better known as Hilda Baci, officially broke the record for the longest cooking marathon (individual), with a time of 93 hours 11 minutes.

The 26-year-old chef began on Thursday, May 11 and continued through to Monday, May 15, cooking over 100 pots of food during her four-day kitchen stint.

Ms Bassey attempted to set a record of 100 hours. However, almost seven hours were deducted from her final total because she mistakenly took extra minutes for one of her rest breaks early on in the attempt.

Her record was short-lived, though, as Alan Fisher, an Irish chef who runs a restaurant in Japan, dethroned her in November.

Governor Akeredolu dies

The year also witnessed the death of a sitting governor, Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State, who succumbed to death after a long battle with cancer.

Mr Akeredolu became the fourth governor to die in office in Nigeria after Shehu Kangiwa (Old Sokoto), Patrick Yakowa (Kaduna State) and Mamman Ali (Yobe).

On the international scene, 2023 witnessed the historic coronation ceremony of King Charles III, a ritual that completed his ascension to the throne as the King of England. This followed the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

Women’s football also came of age in 2023 with the staging of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, co-hosted by Australia and New Zealand.

The Falcons of Nigeria did Africa proud after fighting gallantly against eventual finalists, England, and losing in a penalty shootout.

Artificial Intelligence, which can potentially change human interaction forever, became mainstream in the year.

Unfortunately, the ugliest event of 2023 – the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip – is still ongoing.

The year 2023 also saw a proliferation of military and attempted coups in Africa, especially in the West African sub-region.

There were deadly earthquakes and wildfires, the most devastating being in Turkey, Syria and Morocco.

And who would forget that unsolicited kiss from Spanish football chief Luis Rubiales on the lips of captain Jenni Hermoso, which all but ruined their team’s victory celebration?