2023 came with a truckload of drama for Nigerians. Our dear fatherland witnessed things that had citizens in a perpetual state of “Wetin be this?” stirring heated discussions and emotions. As we finally countdown to the end, we take a trip down memory lane to capture the essence of events that drove the hottest conversations in 2023, reflecting the pulse of our nation through the course of the year.

The botched naira re-design

Image source: The Guardian Nigeria

Yes, there was a naira redesign exercise that ended up being pointless. Ex-CBN governor, Godwin Emefiele, with President Buhari’s backing, announced plans to revamp the naira notes to curb the circulation of counterfeits. He gave a deadline for citizens to return their old notes to their banks in exchange for new ones, which he extended to February 10, 2023. However, a shortage in the circulation of the new notes caused a cash scarcity that showed Nigerians shege in 3D for the next several months. 

One woman even went viral for cursing out the CBN governor.

In came President Tinubu’s administration in May, and the old notes were legal tender once again. Two weeks later, Emefiele was suspended from his post as CBN governor and arrested by the DSS over allegations of fraud. The arrest sparked joy amongst Nigerians who went through hell during the cash scarcity period. 

The Story: What Has the Naira Scarcity Cost Nigerians?

Emi Lokan becomes the president

Image source: ThisDay

On February 25, Nigerians stepped out en masse to vote for their next president. Bola Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Peter Obi of the Labour Party (LP) and Atiku Abubakar of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) were the strongest candidates out of 18 who vied for the position. On May 29, Bola Ahmed Tinubu was sworn in as the 16th president of the country. This happened despite agitation from citizens, and reports from international observers like the European Union Election Observation Mission in Nigeria (EU EOM), that the elections were anything but free and fair. 

Tinubu’s campaign and win further deepened tribal divides in the country. His controversial “Emi Lokan” (it is my turn) slogan touted a Yoruba-led presidency above other tribes. On election day, several cases of voter suppression against people who wanted to vote for Labour Party’s Peter Obi were reported across the country. Notable celebs like Chioma Akpotha and Falz reported cases of violence in their polling units.

The Story: #NigeriaDecides: Is the Choice Really Ours or INEC’s?

Hilda Baci and the Guinness World Record craze

Image source: Pluboard

On May 11, Hilda Baci set out to break the Guinness World Record for longest cooking marathon. In June, she was awarded the record for 93 hours — even though she cooked for 100. In that waiting period, Nigerians showed the GWR shege with an estimated 1500 people applying within two months. But none quite caught a buzz like Ekiti state’s Chef Dami, who got the heat for challenging Hilda’s record right after she’d completed her attempt. Chef Dami embarked on an ambitious 120-hour cook-a-thon. However, it turned out she never made an official application to the GWR team. 

To make matters worse, the GWR team saw a Hilda Baci x social engagement recipe, and did they cook? She visited their London headquarters barely a week after an Irish chef, Alan Fisher, broke her record and set a new one with 119 hours of cooking and baking on November 7.

The Story: 100 Hours Completed: Hilda Baci on the Journey to Breaking a Culinary World Record

The fuel subsidy removal

Image source: Vanguard

Tinubu promised to “hit the ground running”, and he didn’t disappoint. The president’s gift to Nigerians upon assuming office was the immediate removal of the controversial fuel subsidy. During his inauguration speech on May 29, he said: “Subsidy can no longer justify its ever-increasing costs in the wake of drying resources.”

The aftermath of the subsidy removal? Fuel scarcity, a litre jumping to ₦617 from ₦198 and inflation.

The Story: Navigating Nigeria: How Nigerians Are Adapting to Fuel Subsidy Removal

Elon Musk, Twitter and X

Image source: The Times

When you buy a $44 billion plaything, you don’t just abandon it to gather dust. Tesla billionaire, Elon Musk, knows this, and that’s why he started by rebranding “Twitter” to “X” in July 2023. And we simply can’t get used to the name change. The iconic bird logo was also replaced. However, all was forgiven when the new landlord rolled out his payout feature in August, and Nigerian users smiled to the bank.

Since Elon’s takeover, he’s introduced a range of features that have both excited users and pissed them off too. Verification is now available to anyone who subscribes to Blue, Circle is gone, no tweet character limit as a Blue subscriber and more chaos.

The Story: Interview With X Premium: “You Too Can Cash Out”

Mark Zuckerberg’s Threads

Image source: x.com/finkd

What’s better than one billionaire’s hostile takeover of an iconic social media app? Two billionaires competing against each other with similar social apps. While Musk navigated the murky waters of X, Meta CEO, Mark Zuckerburg, launched his rival app, Threads, in July. And he did this with an iconically humorous tweet, his first post on the platform in 11 years. The app debuted with a staggering 10 million users, and trust Nigerians to join in the great migration. 

But four months later, it’s safe to say Threads isn’t exactly Threading anymore.

The Story: 24 Hours of Threading: A Report Card for Twitter’s New Rival, “Threads”

Viral NPC TikToker

Source: Ubermedien

July got Nigerians acting a fool on TikTok when US TikToker, PinkyDoll, went viral for live streaming herself acting like a video game non-playable character (NPC). Her popular catchphrases: “Ice cream, so good”, “Geng geng” and “ You got me feeling like a cowgirl” filtered into Nigerian TikTok, and we made a mess of it.

The rise of VeryDarkBlackman

Image source: IntelRegion

The Abuja-based influencer, Martins Vincent Otse AKA VeryDarkBlackman, caught the public’s attention in July, during his epic battle with Igbinoba Jennifer, owner of the popular skincare brand, Jenny’s Glow Nigeria. He reported the brand to NAFDAC for not duly registering her range of skincare products, and the agency sealed her Abuja office. The battle, however, would extend to other skincare brands in the country who were forced to act right, thanks to him.

These days, he’s in the news for stirring controversy with his takes on trending topics.

The exit of age-long multinationals 

Pharmaceutical giant, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), announced its exit from Nigeria in August, 51 years after it set up shop in Lagos. The company cited different reasons for the decision, and the usual culprits made the list: harsh business environment, fluctuating foreign exchange. The exit led to a rocket-high increase in drug prices. Panadol moved from ₦100 to ₦400, Augmentin from ₦4k to ₦20k, and Ventolin inhaler, ₦1500 to ₦16k.

About four months after GSK’s exit, Procter & Gamble (P&G) announced that it would stop producing in Nigeria and return to an import-only model. The company’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Andre Schulten, also cited the foreign exchange situation as a major driving factor for the decision. Meanwhile, in March, Fast Moving Consumer Goods company, Unilever, exited the home care and skin cleansing market in Nigeria. The company’s departure was poised to help it find a more sustainable and profitable business model. They took with them, popular brands like OMO, Sunlight and Lux.

The Story: What’s the Real Cost of Inflation? Five Nigerians Tell Us

Tech bro becomes Nigerian minister

Image Source: X

The Nigerian tech ecosystem scored a major win in August when President Tinubu appointed CCHub’s co-founder and CEO, Bosun Tijani, as minister of communications, innovation and digital economy. Things almost went south during the screening, when senators dug up a 2021 tweet in which he called them “morons”. His response:

“The tweets online don’t represent me at all. As a young man born and bred by Yoruba parents, I tender my sincere apology. I am profusely sorry,” Tijani said.

In October, Tijani unveiled his implementation plans for the Technical Talent Training program, which will train and develop three million young Nigerians.  

The naira’s downward slope

Image source: Premium Times

2023 was a bad one for the Nigerian naira (NGN) as it hit a record low that sent a wave of worry across the nation. September saw the national currency trade between ₦950 and ₦1200 to a dollar from around ₦700 at the beginning of the year. Things haven’t gotten better yet.

The Story: Losers and Winners from CBN’s Unified Exchange Rate Policy

The election tribunal and Tinubu’s certificate

The 2023 presidential election packed up in February, but many electorates, including the presidential candidates of PDP and LP were dissatisfied with INEC’s result. Obi and Atiku headed to the tribunal in March to seek the nullification of the election. The drama played out for months, and an unfavourable judgement was finally delivered in September.

The Story: The Presidential Election Tribunal: What You Should Know

Source: Arise News

However, Atiku continued his fight post-tribunal, leading to an inquiry into Tinubu’s university certificate. In October, a US court ordered the Chicago State University to release the president’s academic records. Discrepancies in some of the records suggested that Tinubu’s certificate was disputable at best. The Supreme Court eventually dismissed Atiku’s suit on grounds that it couldn’t entertain evidence that wasn’t tendered before the lower court.

The Story: What Do The Chicago State University Tinubu Documents Tell Us?



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