In 2017, YNaija committed a big part of its time and resources towards carefully documenting the big stories happening in the country and on the continent and highlighting the efforts of young Nigerians and Africans challenging the tired narratives around the continent through personal achievement and social good. Sometimes these stories are forgotten, buried under the avalanche of a year’s worth of news reporting and spot analyses.
Our reporting has been diverse and extensive, and we have chosen to start our reporting in 2018 by returning to these stories, to remind ourselves and our readers just how much ground was covered in 2017 and reaffirm the level of quality and care we commit to telling our stories in 2018.
We hope they resonate with you now, as well as they did when they were first published.
For the sixth consecutive year, YNaija brings you its annual ranking of the most powerful young persons under the age of 40 who are getting things done in policy and research. From dynamic state commissioners manning important ministries to leaders in NGOs and public policy, these 10 voices are truly influential.
Muhammad Sani Abdullahi
When Mallam Nasir El-Rufai took over the reins of Kaduna state, he brought along with him, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, a development economist and public policy specialist. With his over 12 year experience in development policy, finance and project implementation, including a stint at the United Nations Secretary General’s office, Abdullahi comes fully qualified to take on the state ministry of Budget and Planning which he oversees as commissioner.
It is Vice President Yemi Osinbajo’s responsibility to kickstart the economy and he has developed a special interest in entrepreneurship and improving the ease of doing business in Nigeria. Ife Adebayo, as Special Assistant on Innovation & Entrepreneurship to Osinbajo has the challenge of advising on strategies to make these reforms happen. He has worked on programs like the Mark Zuckerberg co-signed Aso Villa Demo Day which had young persons pitching startup ideas to the presidency.
Betta Edu became the youngest serving special adviser when she was appointed to advise Cross River state Governor Ben Ayade on Community and Primary Health Care. A 2010 graduate of the University of Calabar where she bagged her MBBS degree, Edu was later appointed director general of the state primary health care development agency. She has a Master’s degree in Public Health in developing countries from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River state surprised not a few when he named Asuquo Ekpenyong Commissioner for Finance. He didn’t just stop there, though. Ekpenyong was soon announced MD Tinapa Business & Leisure and giving the mandate to turn Nigeria’s biggest tourism export business around. He holds a Msc. Distinction in International Banking and Financial Services from the University of Reading and has worked successfully in the private sector.
Lagos Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s grand plan to tackle the state’s rising unemployment rests on the shoulders of Akintunde Oyebode, pioneer Executive Secretary of the newly created Employment Trust Fund. Oyebode is in charge of an annual 6.25 billion naira war chest in this battle for wealth creation and is tasked with the responsibility of distributing the funds evenly to qualified entrepreneurs and artisans who have passed through a credible, transparent process.
Nneka Eze leads Dalberg’s work in Nigeria as a partner and Lagos office director. An alumnus of Harvard University, Eze has worked with private corporations, state governments, and foundations on strategic planning, market analysis, investment planning, and performance transformation. She has focused on a range of sectors including agriculture, education and youth employment, financial services, and inclusive growth, she co-manages Dalberg’s Global Agriculture and Food Security practice area.
Armed with a doctorate degree from Kent Business School, Bell Ihua is the chief executive officer at NOIPolls, Nigeria’s premiere opinion polling and research company, created by former Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. Ihua’s NOIPolls has been at the forefront of many national conversations, using scientific based research techniques to feel the pulse of the people and submit empirical evidence for government and citizen interventions.
Malo has an Eisenhower fellow, a Desmond Tutu fellow, an African Leadership fellow and a Crans Montana New Leaders fellow. She has served as senior technical adviser and special assistant to former ministers, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Chinedu Nebo. She is presently the country director of Power For All, an international organisation that builds platforms and collaborations for distributed power. Malo also founded Clean Technology Hub, a distributed renewable energy services firm.
This University of Jos trained medical doctor is the Managing Director of Direct Consulting and Logistics, a health management consulting firm providing research and implementation support for primary health care in Nigeria. Major clients of DCL include the Johns Hopkins International Vaccine Access Centre and the National Primary Health Care Development Agency. Molemodile has a combined Master’s degree in Health Policy Finance and Planning from the London Schools of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Economics.
Mark Okoye may be called a ‘’30-year-old boy’’ by Governor Willie Obiano who appointed him Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partners in Anambra but it is clear that Okoye has earned the appointment, having worked in different capacities like Senior Special Assistant on Investments and member of the state Economic Think-Tank. Before Okoye was named commissioner, he was a Special Adviser to the Governor in the ministry he now heads.