YNaija Special: Father Mbaka, Ben Murray-Bruce, Ooni of Ife among 100 most influential people in Nigeria

These are the 100 most influential people in Nigeria, as compiled by the Editors of Y!/YNaija.

 Clergy and Religion

Enoch Adeboye

Perhaps the most influential religious leader in the country, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God has stated that his aim is to put a branch within five minutes of every human on earth. Every year he comes closer to this goal as he continues to minister to his devoted flock.

Paul Adefarasin

Pastor Paul Adefarasin is the metropolitan, senior pastor of House on the Rock, a ministry headquartered in Lekki, Lagos but with 80 daughter churches across Africa and Europe. The Experience, an annual music concert which he convenes celebrated its tenth year in 2015 and remains the most important gospel concert in the county.

Matthew Kukah

Reverend Father Matthew Kukah is presently the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sokoto. He is also a fierce human rights activist and outspoken critic of government. Fr Kukah is esteemed for his insistence of speaking truth to power and this year, he called for caution in president Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade.

Ejike Mbaka

Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka is the spiritual director of the popular Adoration Ministries based in Enugu state. His divine messages of salvation, deliverance, and healing have earned him a cult following but it was his surprising, against the grain pronouncements on the general elections that ushered President Buhari into power that made headlines nationwide.

John Onaiyekan

As Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria’s seat of power, John Cardinal Onaiyekan has parlayed his considerable influence to intervene in several national issues. He was a member of the National Peace Committee that dedicated themselves to ensuring the conduct of peaceful elections across the country.

David Oyedepo

The founder and presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church World Wide, (also known as Winners’ Chapel) is in many ways also the most important private Nigerian investor in education. His work with Covenant University, Landmark University and the Kingdom Heritage model primary and secondary school franchise is unrivalled in its commitment to excellence.

Poju Oyemade

Pastor Poju Oyemade is the senior pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre Lagos and convener of The Platform, an annual Independence Day event where prominent business men and women (that are believers) share how they thrive in their industries applying principles founded in the Bible. In 2015, the Platform attracted speakers like Judy Smith, Pat Utomi and Olusegun Adeniyi.

Professionals

Sylvia Adebajo

A seasoned public health physician, Dr Adebajo is the country director of the Nigeria office of the Population Council. She co-ordinates the efforts of local and international donors to conduct research on infectious diseases of public health importance and provide quality care for populations most at risk for HIV/AIDS.

Jumoke Adenowo

Adenowo is a multiple award winning architect who has been dubbed “face of architecture” in Nigeria. She was recently featured on CNN African Voices, and profiled on CNN as Africa’s Star architect. Adenowo has been featured in some of the world’s leading architectural publications such as America’s Architectural Record magazine.

Akinwunmi Adesina

A son of a farmer, Akinwunmi Adesina fought a spirited battle to be elected president of the African Development Bank (AFDB) beating seven other formidable candidates from across the continent. Prior to this election, Adesina was a high performing minister for Agriculture and rural development in the Goodluck Jonathan administration.

Solomon Arase

Edo state born Solomon Arase is the inspector general of the Nigerian Police Force. Arase was appointed to head a deeply dysfunctional force lacking with a huge public trust deficit. His ongoing efforts to reform the force to a sharper, meaner machine proved interesting to watch.

Tukur Yusuf Buratai

The appointment of Lieutenant Tukur Buratai as Chief of Army Staff was widely hailed as a step in the right direction in winning the war against the Boko Haram insurgency. Buratai has received praises for instilling morale into the troops once again and recapturing all lost territories but he got knocks for his handling of his convoy’s clash with the Shiite Muslim sect in Zaria that resulted in the massacre of hundreds.

Godwin Emefiele

The governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria has one of the most thankless jobs in the country presently. Faced with the tricky twosome of plunging oil prices and a highly unstable Naira, Emefiele’s job is to oversee the country’s monetary policy and ensure the economic environment is stable and business friendly.

Attahiru Jega

A renowned academic, administrator and union leader, professor Jega received the biggest test of his public service career when he was appointed chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). His introduction of technological advancement to the electoral process and calm, clinical composure in the face of incitement raised the bar for conduct of public officials.

Ibe Kachikwu

The former vice chairman of ExxonMobil is one of the most important persons in the country as he doubles as both the managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and the minister of state for petroleum. Faced with reforming the structure of the NNPC and ensuring the availability of petroleum products to Nigerians, Kachikwu had quite an eventful year.

Amina Mohammed

The newly minted minister for Environment has hit the ground running already, leading negotiations on behalf of Nigeria at the Cop 21 climate talks to demand that the West contribute $100bn annually on climate finance in the global south by 2020. Before this, Mohammed was the senior special adviser on MDGs to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

Mosun Belo-Olusoga

This super banker was appointed chairman of Access Bank, becoming the first woman to hold that position. Prior to this, Belo-Olusoga was an executive director at Guaranty Trust Bank. She oversaw the Access Conference in 2015 as well as the W awards that awarded distinguished female leaders.

Arunma Oteh

The former director general of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) made a power move when at the end of her tenure at the SEC in July, she moved to The World Bank where she was appointed Vice President and Treasurer of the revered institution.

Politics

Jummai Al-Hassan

The minister for women affairs recently lost her bid to become the first elected female governor in Nigeria when the court of appeal dismissed her challenge. However, none can deny Al-Hassan’s grit and perseverance, venturing in territories considered taboo for females. Her inclusive campaign united Christians and Muslims in the state and proved a formidable challenge for eventual winner Darius Ishaku.

Rotimi Amaechi

Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi received a thankless and unattractive job offer when he was tasked with chairing the 2015 presidential campaign of General Muhammadu Buhari. Amaechi spared no turn reimagining and reinventing candidate Buhari with a focus on the younger generation. He was appointed minister for transportation despite building opposition from the PDP.

Muhammadu Buhari

President Muhammadu Buhari made history when he became the first person in the nation’s chequered political history to unseat an incumbent at the polls. The 72 year old retired general, a serial contender for the presidency rode to victory on the message of change, aided by a vastly improved and inclusive presidential campaign.

Yakubu Dogara

The soft spoken speaker of the House of Representatives surprised many when he came from nowhere, against the wishes of his All Progressive Congress party leadership to clinch the nation’s number four political gig in a hotly contested election process. Dogara has had his work cut out for him, uniting the splintered house.

Babatunde Fashola

With his intimidating portfolio of minister for power, works and housing, the former governor of Lagos is indeed a super minister. Obviously impressed with his performance as governor where he transformed a decaying entity into a budding megacity, President Buhari charged Fashola with overseeing and restoring the country’s general infrastructure.

Femi Gbajabiamila        

The outspoken and fiery legislator from Lagos state and his supporters in the federal House of Representatives succeeded in eliciting House leadership positions from a rebellious speaker after Gbajabiamila was passed over for the speakership position.

Goodluck Jonathan

As the results of the 2015 presidential polls trickled in and it became clear which way the pendulum swung, Mr Jonathan’s supremely presidential act of immediately conceding defeat, calling his opponent and accepting the result in good faith remains a high water mark in Nigerian, nay African politics.

John Odigie Oyegun

The national chairman of the All Progressives Congress wields considerable power as the leader of the ruling party. His authority was challenged severally when members of the national assembly decided to elect their own leaders, going against the party’s directives but Oyegun rebounded and exerted his authority in the Kogi state gubernatorial debacle.

Bukola Saraki                                                                                                                                                                            

The most talked about politician of the latter half of 2015, Bukola, ruler of the Saraki political dynasty emerged senate president by cooking up an illicit but potent romance with this colleagues from the opposition. The Saraki armour survived countless hits including a protracted trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal as well as allegations of forging the senate standing rules that elected him president.

Garba Shehu

Mallam Garba Shehu, a veteran journalist and newspaper editor was appointed senior special assistant on media and publicity to President Muhammadu Buhari after directing the media and communications team for Buhari’s campaign. Since stepping into the role, Shehu has carried himself with dignity, focusing on his job and doing it with considerable restraint. And class.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Asiwaju marshalled the strike force that held consultations from across the country and resulted in an unprecedented merger of various political parties from different regions to constitute the mega, truly national All Progressives Congress. The victory of the APC at the presidential polls would never have been possible without the master planning of Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Advocacy and Civil society

Yemi Adamolekun                                 

As the executive director of Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), a coalition of persons and youth-led organizations tasked with instituting a culture of good governance and public accountability in Nigeria, she brings the heat to lax public officials. In 2015, Adamolekun and her team organised the much talked about debate between youth representatives of the major frontrunners live on Channels television.

Obiagaeli Ezekwesili

Fiery and intelligent, Obiagaeli Ezekwesili, a former government minister and vice president of the World Bank, has been relentless with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, drawing steady attention to the plight of the missing Chibok girls. She was listed in TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential Persons in the world and has repeatedly showed strength of character, vision and decisive leadership

Olumide Makanjuola

Call him the voice of the voiceless and perhaps you wouldn’t be out of line. The Initiative for Equal Rights, a not for profit in which Makanjuola serves as executive director has been at the fore front of championing the sexual and human rights of sexual minorities. The 10 year old TIERS, remains committed to bringing about a society that is free from discrimination and harm on the grounds of sexual orientation and works towards this goal through education, empowerment and engagement

Philip Obaji Jr

Winner of the Young Person of the Year at this year’s The Future Awards Africa event, Philip Obaji Jnr’s 1 GAME campaign has shown courage and commitment in advocating for basic primary education for street children in North-East Nigeria. For four years now, Obaji Jr and his volunteering team have been meeting with community leaders in Borno, Yobe and Gombe to encourage parents to send their children to tuition-free public primary schools.

Ayo Obe

Ayo Obe is a legal practitioner and a partner in the Lagos-based law firm, Ogunsola Shonibare. A former president of the Civil Liberties Organisation, Ayo Obe has been visible both on and offline, actively campaigning for the return of the missing Chibok school girls.

Chidi Odinkalu

The fearless and endless brilliant scholar and activist professor Chidi Odinklalu ended his tenure as the chairman of the National Human Rights Commission late last year but his voice has remained one of the nation’s most vital, coming across clear on all the important topics of human rights significance.

Business

Mike Adenuga

Mike Adenuga, recognised by Forbes magazine as Nigeria’s second richest man, built his fortune in telecom and oil production. His mobile phone company Globacom is now the second largest operator in Nigeria with more than 30 million subscribers and operations in Ghana and the Republic of Benin.

Omoyemi Akerele

Founder and artistic director of Style House Files, a creative development agency for Nigerian and African designers, Omoyemi Akerele is a driving force behind the burgeoning Nigerian fashion industry. A pioneer in image consultancy and creative direction, Akerele also helps brands gain essential international exposure through presenting showcases at Pitti Immagine in Italy, and through the annual Lagos Fashion and Design Week.

Ibukun Awosika

Awosika is the founder and chair of The Sokoa Chair Centre Ltd, a market leader in the office furniture and banking security systems industries. She exemplifies the Nigerian entrepreneurial spirit, represents the true face of Nigerian business and highlights the opportunities that Nigeria presents to entrepreneurs. In 2015, she was appointed the first female board chair of the over 100 year old First Bank of Nigeria.    

Aliko Dangote

Despite a weaker Nigerian currency and strife in the northern part of Nigeria, Aliko Dangote is still Africa’s richest man by far, even after a net worth decline of nearly $5 billion in the past year. In 2015 his Dangote cement, Africa’s largest cement producer, launched new plants in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania.

Tara Fela Durotoye

There aren’t many businesses proudly reflecting the made in Nigeria spirit that Durotoye’s budding empire has come to represent. And there are fewer still that have impacted lives with the force and ferocity of the House of Tara. Nigeria’s biggest make-up brand with 14 branches in 8 states of the federation, directly employs about 80 staff members and has created a network of over 3,000 beauty representatives across the country.

Tony Elumelu

Nigerian entrepreneur and investor Tony Elumelu owns a controlling interest in Transcorp, a publicly traded Nigerian conglomerate with interests in hospitality, agriculture, oil production and power generation. The Hiers Holdings’ boss through various initiatives, is committed to leadership, entrepreneurship and community development.

Ibidun Ighodalo                                              

Ighodalo runs Elizabeth R, a high profile events management business. Her work decorating and lighting up Lagos, especially the long stretch of road along Sanusi Fafunwa, Victoria Island powered by Zenith Bank has come to define Christmas celebrations in the city and maybe in the country. Nothing announces Christmas in Lagos like Ighodalo’s breath taking designs.

Osayi Alile- Oruene

Alile-Oruene is a career not-for-profit and fundraising professional with decades of experience in philanthropy and wealth management. Before exiting in 2013, Alile-Oruene was the executive director of FATE Foundation, a private sector led not-for-profit organisation. She presently serves as the executive director, Access Bank Foundation.

Jim Ovia

Jim Ovia came back to the bank he founded in spectacular fashion last year when Zenith Bank plc announced his appointment as board chairman and non- executive director of the bank. MTN, Africa’s leading mobile phone operator also acquired Ovia’s Visafone, the only surviving Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) operator in Nigeria.

Biodun Shobanjo

Business mogul and gentleman par excellence, Biodun Shobanjo is the Chairman of Troyka Holdings (a massively successful entity comprising companies like Insight Communications, The Quadrant Company, Halogen Security, Mediacom, HotSauce, Optimum Exposures and Black Inyx). Considered an industry legend in the field of advertising, Shobanjo has directly influenced the careers of today’s biggest advertising executives.

Technology

Iyinoluwa Aboyeji

Aboyeji, is a co-founder and recruitment director at Andela Inc, a global talent accelerator that trains young intelligent Africans to be world-class developers before connecting them with employers around the world in search of top tier technical talent. Andela has been profiled in The New Yorker and Forbes magazines.

Obi Asika

The media overlord has been known to bridge the gap between traditional and new media with his Storm 360 label. He put together another successful multi panel Social Media Week and was for a brief spell appointed media assistant to immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan

Bosun Tijani and Femi Longe            

These guys are the brains and brawns behind the Co-Creation hub, the biggest and most influential ideas hub in the country. From BudgIT to The Constitution App, some of the finest and most influential apps in Nigeria have been developed at the hub and Longe and Tijani take very seriously the goal of bridging the gap between citizens and government via technology.

Jason Njoku        

iROKO Partners’ Njoku is undeniably one of the most powerful men in Nigeria’s tech space.  Since inception, iROKO has been able to raise an unprecedented $13 million in venture capital funding. With over 500,000 registered subscribers and a peerless collection of local material, iROKO keeps growing from strength to strength.

Seun Onigbinde

Seun Onigbinde’s BudgIT is through campaigns like #OpenNASS, focused on making public officials accountable through transparent processes. Onigbinde has kept busy working on ideas like Tracka, a social platform that allows concerned individuals collaborate and track capital projects in their community, and Fitila.ng, a data crunching platform that has opened a new chapter in data journalism.

Simdul Shagaya

Black Friday shopping has never been the same, not since Shagaya’s Konga.com, an e-commerce juggernaut arrived with its price slashes and rock bottom clearance sales. Everyone and their mother counts down, patiently waiting for Konga.com’s Yakata sales to literally break the internet. Shagaya also owns Dealdey, the most popular online shopping website in Nigeria.

Entertainment

Ade Bantu

Adegoke Odukoya, popularly known as Adé Bantu, is a Nigerian-German musician, producer and activist. He is best known as the founder of the Afro-German musical collective and his role as front man for the 12 piece band Bantu. He also organises the monthly Afropolitan vibes, a sensational alternative live music concert.

Falz

This rapper, comedian and internet savvy disrupter was born Folarin Falana, but is better known by his moniker Falz. With 2 hit albums behind him, Falz has found a way to leverage on his comic talents and social media clout to push his music to wider audiences. On Instagram where he reigns supreme with over 270,000 followers, his comic skits have positively influenced the culture and brainwaves of his, like #ElloBae have translated into huge merchandising opportunities.

Don Jazzy

A trouper at reinventing the wheel, the Mavin boss shrugged off the loss of both D’Banj and Wande Coal and instead focused on turning his new roster of artistes into viable alternatives. In between producing huge anthems for his Mavin Crew and anyone cool enough to afford his talents, Don Jazzy has proven himself a formidable business brand, signing much publicized deals with Loya Milk and E-commerce giants, Konga.com.

Chioma Jesus      

You may not know Amaka Okwuoha but the name Chioma Jesus is likely to ring a bell. From the Eastern part of Nigeria, the powerfully anointed voice of Chioma Jesus has ministered to believers and unbelievers alike across the country. No gospel concert- from The Experience to Inspiration FM’s Praise Jam- is complete these days without Chioma Jesus receiving top billing.

M.I

The artiste known as M.I was born Jude Abaga. A rapper, performing artiste and business man, MI recently became a boardroom player when he was voted to lead Choc Boi Nation, the expanded team that merged the talents of his vanity label Loopy records with those of the parent Chocolate City. He also serves as a judge on Techno’s Own the stage competition.

Kene Mkparu                                                                                                             

Kene Mkparu is the CEO of Filmhouse cinemas, a franchise currently operating in Lagos, Ibadan and Calabar. A beneficiary of the $200 million Bank of Industry creative and entertainment industry intervention fund, Mkparu is working on taking film distribution down to the people through community cinemas. His FilmOne Distribution Limited secured Nigerian distribution for the Half of a yellow sun movie adaptation as well as titles like The Department and Gone too far.

Genevieve Nnaji

The rags-to-riches story of one of Nollywood’s greatest actresses is as inspiring, as it is heart-warming. With her impeccable diction, super acting skills, and a slew of brand endorsements, who says hard work and talent don’t pay? Nnaji made a long awaited return to the big screens with the self-produced weepie, Road to yesterday.

Mildred Okwo

Okwo is the co-founder of The Audrey Silva Company, the forward thinking production house behind the future classic rom com, The Meeting. A well-respected film director and producer, Okwo acts as Nollywood’s mother hen, dishing out tough love to a new generation of thespians on and off Twitter. For her next film, Surulere, she hired a predominantly young cast representing Nollywood’s immediate future.

Olamide

A businessman and label boss, Olamide’s YBNL label and artiste management outfit manages his career and has introduced fast rising acts such as Lil Kesh, Viktoh, Chinko Ekun and Adekunle Gold, all stars in their own right. He released his fifth solo album in as many years and scored the year’s biggest hit with the utterly irresistible Bobo

Chioma Ude

The executive director and founder of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) has been working assiduously for 4 years now to make AFRIFF the continent’s most important film festival. Aside the glitz and glam, AFRIFF provides film training and talent development opportunities for budding filmmakers and creates an environment for stakeholders to engage in robust discussions.

Wizkid

Wizkid’s clout continues to rise even outside the shores of this country as his Legendary Beatsz produced Ojuelegba single continues to show wings. British underground artiste Skepta hopped on a remix alongside megastar Drake and Alicia Keys put out a viral clip expressing her love for the song. Wizkid also recorded a duet with American R&B star R. Kelly.

Traditional Media

Mo Abudu           

Mo Abudu is the founder of Ebony Life Television and the Inspire Africa Foundation. As a TV producer, media personality, human resources management consultant, and entrepreneur, Mo is the poster child for those who keep evolving – for the better. Her EbonyLife films rolled out its first feature length, Fifty a star packed glossy fairy tale starring Nse Ikpe Etim and Omoni Oboli.

Bimbo Adelakun

The author and journalist is one of the most important voices working on the columnist space. Her Thursday back page column with The Punch, Nigeria’s most widely read newspaper remains popular among readers and her sharp, analytical thought process always comes across clearly no matter the topic of the day.

Tajudeen Adepetu

Tajudeen Adeputu is the managing director of Consolidated Media Associates (owners of ONTV, Televista Movies, Spice TV, Village Square and Soundcity). Soundcity is still the market leader for trending videos that define the culture and the station successfully hosted the annual blast concert featuring some of the biggest names in entertainment.

Ayo Animashaun                                                                 

The CEO of Smooth productions, organisers of The Headies and parent company of the Hip TV brand remains an important presence in the entertainment industry. For 10 years, despite humongous challenges, he has been able to consistently deliver the Headies and his Hip TV is a compulsory destination for musicians looking to promote their videos or event specials.

Ali Baba

Alibaba (born Atunyota Alleluya Akporobomerere) is widely regarded as the father of comedy in Nigeria. A consummate entertainer, master of ceremonies, radio show host and motivational speaker amongst others, Ali Baba’s head for creating ideas birthed the now annual New Year’s Day variety show featuring the finest of music, comedy and dance.

TY Bello

This new mum resumed her professional life like one who never left. In between producing stunning photography for high profile media like Vanguard Allure and This Day style and sharing her behind the scenes experience, TY Bello continued to document the life and times of the most interesting figures of the time.

Ben Murray Bruce

The common sense senator and politician is a vibrant force on social media where he contributes populist jingoes to the polity. His Silverbird entertainment empire- comprising a television and radio stations as well as a chain of cinemas nationwide and a beauty pageant franchise- celebrated 30 years of doing business.

Dele Momodu 

Dele Momodu is a Journalist, publisher, businessman and founder of Ovation Magazine international, the most influential luxury glossy in the country. His popular weekly Pendulum column on This Day newspaper remains a strong favourite and he broke the internet with exclusive pictures of ailing former petroleum minister Diezani Alison-Madueke on his new start up Boss magazine.

John Momoh

John Momoh is a Nigerian broadcast journalist. He is the chairman and CEO of Channels TV, an independent and multiple award winning (a ten time winner of television station of the year award in Nigeria alongside many others) twenty four hour news and media television channel based in Lagos, Nigeria.

Amin Moussalli

Amin Moussalli is the chief executive of three leading radio brands in Nigeria. He founded, the popular pidgin oriented Wazobia FM, Cool FM and more recently, Nigeria Info FM. Moussalli came to Nigeria in 1975 and founded AIM consultants, a company that is focused on architectural Engineering designs.

Ruth Osime                                                                                        

In 2003, Ruth Osime started out as a columnist with This Day newspapers. Two years later she became editor of This Day Style, a 24-page colour, glossy pull-out and went about her new job like a woman with plenty to prove. Years later, This Day Style has become THE staple for fashion and style aficionados, spawning a shelf full of imitators.

Chris Ubosi

Ubosi is the founder and CEO of Megaelectric, operators of Classic FM 97.3, The Beat 99.9FM and Naija FM 102.7 in Lagos as well as The Beat 97.9FM Ibadan. He is also a co-founder of MTech Communications Plc, a fully indigenous mobile technology firm, providing services in data communications.

New media 

Tosin Ajibade

As a blogger, Ajibade’s Olori Supergirl is certainly no Linda Ikeji, but she doesn’t need to be to command the clout that she does. Every major event happening in town wants to secure an Olori Supergirl media partnership and can you blame them? With over 50,000 Twitter followers and a significant offline girl next door personality, advertisers trust that her platform can reach their target audiences.

Osagie Alonge 

While working as a journalist for Thenetng.com, Osagie Alonge was one of the paper’s brightest stars, assiduously covering the entertainment business and churning out reviews, reports and exclusives. He moved to edit The Pulse and his energy has not wavered one bit. His web series Facts only actually attempts to dig underneath the surface and fearlessly reveal what lies beneath, not minding whose ox is gored.

Stanley Azuakola

Azuakola’s online website, The Scoop boasts hard hitting opinion pieces, rounded analyses and impressive coverage on all things politics. The Scoop’s steady growth curve has seen its founder become one of the most important players in online journalism. He presently co- hosts Conversations with Chris on Top FM radio every Sunday.

Noble Igwe

Igwe’s work as one third of the popular entertainment and lifestyle website, 360nobs.com these past few years, has been consistently solid and hard to ignore. His new project, StyleVitae launched him into the fashion power circles and in 2015 he was rewarded with a slew of endorsement deals- from Remy Martin to Payporte. Igwe was also listed by Vogue Italia as one of Nigeria’s most stylish men.

Linda Ikeji

Ikeji’s blog which started out as a gossip column has become perhaps the most influential blog in all of Africa and a one stop portal for information, entertainment and gossip. Her use of technology to carve a niche for herself and create an innovative platform for information and empowerment, has made her a source of inspiration to many young entrepreneurs.

Angie Nwandu

21 year old Angie Nwandu is the Nigerian born maven who founded and runs The Shade Room, perhaps the most influential black gossip blog/handle in the United States. Nwandu’s ingenious use of Instagram to curate and propagate content has kept her on the right side of relevant as The Shade Room has grown in leaps and bounds, moving to that rarefied space of breaking news.

Tolu Ogunlesi

Presently serving as West African editor of the Africa Report, Ogunlesi has written for every publication that matters. From Forbes to FAB, The Huffington Post to Punch, the graduate of Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan is indeed one of the most influential and prolific journalists working out of Africa.

Japhet Omojuwa

Japheth Omojuwa is a blogger, international public speaker, political commentator and social media influencer. He has participated as a panelist at a side event during the United Nations General Assembly in New York where he spoke on the need to use data and facts as tools in activism and policy making and remains a constant trending topic on social media sites.

Omoyemi Sowore

Sowore’s Sahara Reporters may have their challenges with accurate reporting but when it comes to dishing out exclusives, exposes and relentless anti-corruption reporting to rival president Buhari’s campaign, they have no peer. SR continues to uncover more tales of sleaze and politicians from Bukola Saraki to Ben Murray-Bruce have found themselves on the website’s receiving end.

Literature/Arts

Bolanle Austen-Peters

Bolanle Austen-Peters is the founder of arts and culture hub Terra Kulture, perhaps the most important space for the promotion of arts in Lagos state. Since inception, the GTBank backed Terra Kulture has hosted over 100 plays. Austen-Peters produced and directed Wakaa the musical, another big scale, splashy stage production.

Biyi Bandele

Since his big screen debut with the adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie’s award winning Half of a yellow sun, Biyi Bandele has followed up with two high profile endeavours; on television (two seasons of MTV’s Shuga Nigeria) and on ffilm (Fifty). The jury is still out on his directing skills but he knows how to get the big projects.

Ifeoma Fafunwa

Boasting over 20 years of professional experience in both the US and Nigeria, Fafunwa is the founder and creative director of iOpenEye; a performance art production company. Her most recent project is the touring stage production titled Hear Word! – a powerful and unsparing collection of monologues based on true stories of inequality told by real Nigerian women.

Kelechi Amadi Obi

In terms of impact on the culture, Kelechi Amadi Obi is the Annie Leibovitz of these parts. No celebrity says no to him. From magazine covers to album arts, fashion editorials to landscape work, he is the man to call. He is also the publisher of the fashion magazine, StyleMania.

Chigozie Obioma

The Nigerian born author of The Fishermen, unarguably the breakout novel of 2015 has had quite the year. Currently residing in the United States where he lectures on Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Obioma, whose writing has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review and Transition is a finalist for this year’s Man Booker Prize for Fiction and winner of the inaugural FT/Oppenheimer awards.

Ojoma Ochai

As the Director Arts, of British Council Nigeria, Ojoma is charged with the responsibility of expanding the reach and growth of the creative industries in Nigeria. The long-term project aims to link artists and organisations in Nigeria and the UK and support Nigeria’s arts and creative sector development ambitions.

Lola Shoneyin

The author of The Secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives, Shoneyin’s work with the Ake Book festival, an annual celebration of literature, dance and music has had a healthy impact on the creative industry. Writers and their hangers on look forward to the Ake festival with all the excitement of Hollywood’s awards season.

Wole Soyinka

Nigeria’s only Nobel laureate may be in the twilight of his career but his voice remains as important on national issues. He speaks up when it matters most and never fails to remind us of our humanity. He also found the time to promote a new book, Republic of liars.

Wana Udobang

Wana Wana as she is popularly called is a journalist, writer, poet and gender activist. She left Inspiration FM in 2015 but don’t cry for her, she is doing fine hosting Airtel’s Touching Lives on television. Udobang is also an arts and culture curator and uses spoken word to address some very important issues, especially those that affect women. Her Al Jazeera piece on the Mirabel centre in Lagos kick started a fund raising drive to help more rape victims.

Bibi Bakare-Yusuf

An accomplished scholar, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf has with her Cassava Republic press contributed to getting the nation reading. Cassava Republic published the Nigerian issues of hotly anticipated and ecstatically reviewed titles, Born on a Tuesday by Elnathan John and The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma. The romance imprint Ankara is also pushing along titles by upcoming writers.

Sporting people

John Mikel Obi

The Chelsea midfielder may not be known for scoring goals with prolific efficiency but he has steadily built his profile as one of the most successful African football players of his generation, joining Chelsea FC in Europe Championship and Premiership victories. One of the most decorated players on the continent, Obi was also part of Nigeria’s African Cup of Nations winning team in 2013.

Blessing Okagbare                  

Bold, beautiful and uber-stylish, Blessing is an Olympic and World Championships medalist in the long jump, and a world medallist in the 200 metres. She also holds the Women’s 100 metres Commonwealth Games record for the fastest time at 10.85 seconds. She became the fourth woman to win the 100m and 200m double at the Commonwealth Games.

Sunday Oliseh

A former Nigerian international, Sunday Oliseh is the head coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria’s national team. After retiring from professional football, Oliseh spent some time as a football pundit cum commentator on cable network Super Sports before he was unveiled as coach of the Super Eagles. His start has been stormy as key players have retired even as he struggles to keep a clean sheet.

Asisat Oshoala

The most exciting female player on the continent is also one of the youngest. 20 year old Oshoala shone like a thousand stars at the FIFA under-20 World Cup in Canada last year where she emerged the most valuable player after putting 7 goals past the net and assisting with 2 more. In January, she scored double at the Glo/CAF awards, winning the African Women’s Player of the Year and Women Youth Player of the year. She is currently signed to Liverpool Ladies in The English Premiership.

Traditional leaders

Rilwan Akiolu

The controversy prone Oba of Lagos may be infamous for his remarks on the Igbos and their voting patterns at the last general elections but politically and culturally he wields a lot of influence on the metropolitan. Who can forget his relentless and perhaps premature championing of the then governorship candidate Akinwunmi Ambode who would go on to be elected governor?

Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi 

40 year old Ogunwusi was last year named Ooni of Ife, the paramount traditional ruler of Ile Ife, one of the most revered traditional institutions in the country. A descendant of one of the ruling houses in Ife kingdom, Ogunwusi’s high wire politicking saw of challenges from about 21 other candidates including his elder brother.

Sanusi Lamido Sanusi

The immediate past governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria succeeded his late great uncle Ado Bayero as Emir of Kano in 2014 and even though his ascension to the throne was clouded with controversy, Emir Muhammadu Sanusi has emerged a popular and highly influential choice. He is the leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order, historically the second most important Muslim position in Nigeria.

 

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