Ezekwesili? Okonjo-Iweala? Bakare? D’banj? Who will be YNaija Person of the Year 2012? Vote now!


by Akan Ido

Mimiko? Bakare? Okonjo-Iweala? D’ban’j? Who will be YNaija Person of the Year 2012?

It’s that time of the year when YNaija chooses its Person of the Year – as always, following from the tradition of the TIME Person of the Year, we are focused on the news-makers of the past 12 months, those who hugged the headlines and stirred the discourse – but those who did that for positive in this case.

With nominees carefully selected by our panel of Editors, readers will have the opportunity to vote that person who they think should be the YNaija Person of the Year 2012. However our Editors, taking the popular vote into advisement, will make the final decision.

And the nominees are:

– Davido: Last year, this young man’s name wouldn’t have attracted any major attention, but his meteoric rise to the limelight is nothing short of remarkable. The self-styled ‘Omo Baba Olowo’, has made his mark, in such a short period of time running his Record Label, HKN Music, and striking music ‘collabos’ with the best in the music industry at home and abroad. At just age 20, his fame is sure to rise in the coming years.


– Don Jazzy: Arguably the best producer in the country at the moment, Don Jazzy, formerly the co-supremo at Mo’Hits Records and presently the helmsman of the MAVINS Record Label, has done good for himself continuously hitting the mark and constantly delivering danceable beats which doesn’t fail to wow his loyal fans. At age 30, if he continues at this rate, then legendary status awaits him in and outside the shores of Nigeria.


– Wizkid: Wizkid is a prominent member of the EME family run by fellow artiste and music manager, Banky W. His voice and appeal to a wide variety of audience is undeniable. Wizkid, who shot into the music limelight with his song, ‘Holla at your boy‘ has continued to grow, headlining sellout tours in the country, Europe and America.

Wizkid has positioned himself as an artist with the midas touch (or voice): whatever he does becomes a hit. You can’t mention the artistes who made their mark in 2012 without acknowledging the 23-year-old ‘Pakurumo‘ crooner.


– Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala: This eclectic woman described by The Economist Magazine as the ‘Iron Lady’ needs no special introduction, she is a world player in the economic and financial sense of the word.  She is a renowned economist and presently Nigeria’s minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy.

In April, she became one of three candidates in the race to replace World Bank President Robert Zoellick slugging it out with the eventual winner [and US nominee], Jim Yong Kim. It was widely acknowledged that the only thing which stood between her and the job was her non-ownership of an American passport. In  terms of previous experience, notable achievements and key endorsements, she was miles ahead of the contender.

This year, after a long drawn battle with the Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), Okonjo-Iweala, managed to convince the influential body on the necessity of a Sovereign Wealth Fund  which would save money for future generations, fund infrastructure and defend the economy against commodity price shocks. The fund is now operational and an 8-man board has been set-up to manage it.

A stickler for fiscal discipline, under Okonjo-Iweala’s management, the recurrent expenditure in the proposed 2013 budget has been reduced compared to that of 2012, albeit marginally. Also, Nigeria’s excess crude account has more than doubled from $4billion less than a year ago, to $9billion as at December 2012.

In the midst of her impossible schedule, she still managed to release ‘Reforming the unreformable,’ a relevant book on the widely hailed impact of the economic team in the Olusegun Obasanjo years as civilian president. The book has received largely positive reviews and critical endorsements from major international organizations including her former employer, the World Bank.

Only this month, the influential international magazine, Foreign Policy, listed her as number 51 on its annual list of the top 100 global thinkers for “showing Africa how to break the resource curse.”

Okonjo-Iweala was prominently involved in the removal of fuel subsidy and the introduction of the SURE-P programme in January.


– Olusegun Mimiko: Following his feat in 2009 when he won the gubernatorial elections in Ondo State against all odds via the election tribunal, Governor Olusegun Mimiko did it again, this time via the ballot box when he won the October 20, 2012 election to continue in office for a second term. He is the first Governor in Ondo State to legitimately win a second term. No mean feat.

Despite the odds against him, especially with the effective South-West machine of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) as well as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) doing everything possible to unseat him, he emerged victorious – the Iroko stands firm.

Ondo people would be expecting a more successful second term from their governor and hoping he can win over the more than half of the electorate who voted for his challengers.


– Aliko Dangote: When your president hardly makes a national broadcast or grants an interview without mentioning your name, then you know you are a man of influence. That’s the lot of the sterling businessman called Aliko Dangote.

With his entrepreneurial savvy and consistence, Dangote has risen to become Africa’s richest man. Outside of government, the Dangote conglomerate is the highest employer of labour in the country. His detribalised mindset and passion in the development of the Nigerian economy has seen him site several companies in different corners of the country from Auchi to Gboko, contributing in tackling Nigeria’s unemployment crisis.

This year, Dangote opened a 6 million metric tonnes cement  production plant in Ibeche which he hopes will cumulatively make Nigeria a net exporter of the product in a few years.

Alongside the prominent lawyer, Olisa Agakoba, the businessman was selected as the co-chair of the presidential fundraising committee for the victims of flood disaster in the country after donating N430 million to some of the victims through his company, Dangote Group. That’s in addition to several other presidential committees he has been appointed to in the last one year.


– Tunde Bakare: After losing out to the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2011 elections, many pundits expected Pastor Bakare to crawl back into his Christian ministry and wait till 2015, but he has continued to be a voice of the opposition using his weekly sermon at the Latter Rain Assembly as a platform to speak against corruption, administrative recklessness, religious extravagance and the fuel subsidy regime which was introduced in January.

With his signature courage and fearlessness, Bakare aligned himself with the yearnings of majority of Nigerians on most of the topical controversies of the day; a position which made him a persona non grata by the government of the day and saw a few verbal barbs thrown his way by a particular government spokesman.

His brand of religious activism has won him many critics, enemies, as well as admirers, but it is almost impossible not to respect his principled stand against the system.


– Omoyeni Akerele: This remarkable lady has had an unbelievable 2012. Featured on the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and CNN which described her as a “fashion pioneer,” Omoyeni Akerele’s desire to put Nigeria on the global fashion map led her to establish the Lagos Fashion and Design Week.

An “astute administrator and organizer of fashion brand building,” she has shown a dogged determination to act a catalyst in unearthing the raw fashion talents in Nigeria by showcasing their works for the world to see. This year alone, apart from the Lagos Fashion and Design Week, Akerele took a handful of local designers to show at the Pitti Immagine women’s event in Florence; as well as a talent contest in Milan put forward by Italian Vogue.

She is the ambassador of the ‘Buy Nigeria’ campaign, an initiative to promote Nigerian made clothes. Her vision for the near future is for the Nigerian indigenous fashion industry to contribute significantly to the GDP which she hopes would be achieved through the patronage of indigenous fashion outfits.

Akerele has announced her plan to establish in 2013, a Modern Day School of the Arts, which will offer courses in fashion, photography, Web design and multimedia platforms.


Barth Nnaji:  Nnaji’s tenure as minister of power, though brief, managed to endear him to many Nigerians as one of the most popular power ministers ever. After his resignation (sack), a public poll was conducted by an online newspaper and it was found that 64% of Nigerians disapproved of his ouster.

In a statement after his resignation, the minister said: “I am confident enough to allow history and the Nigerian people to judge my performance on the task that I accepted from the President.” The judgement has come, and it is favourable.

Under Nnaji’s watch, Nigeria generated and supplied an unprecedented amount of electric power in the history of our nation (at a point we hit 4500MW in power generation.) It was far from ideal, but always looked like it was heading in the right direction. In comparison, things have fallen back to the mischievous unreliability of the past since Nnaji’s exit.

Not even the setback of his demise from the federal cabinet has held back the American trained professor. Since leaving office, he has gone back to running his firm, Geometric Power, the first private indigenous power firm whose 188MW Aba plant is set to begin supplying power to the commercial town of Aba from February 2013.


– Dapo ‘D’ banj’ Oyebanjo: The music world felt the break-up of the Mo’Hits crew will definitely be the end of D’banj considering the pivotal role played by his friend and partner, Don Jazzy in infusing captivating rhythm into his music but he has so far proved critics wrong by continuously re-inventing himself.

D’banj joined the G.O.O.D Music crew owned by Grammy Award winning artiste, Kanye West, and has since then achieved many feats including sold out show appearances, topped charts, and won several awards to show that his success and that of his former partner, Don Jazzy doesn’t have to be inversely proportional.


– Oby Ezekwesili: Oby Ezekwesili was a government minister from 2005-2007, occupying the Solid Minerals, and later the Education portfolios in the twilight of the Olusegun Obasanjo administration. Her brief tenure as Minister of Solid Minerals is still the yardstick for measuring performance in that ministry.

Prior to that time, she served as the pioneer head of the Budget Monitoring and Price Intelligence unit (popularly called the Due Process office). It was there that she announced herself to Nigerians, earning the sobriquet: Madam Due Process, due to her no-nonsense approach to work, integrity and effectiveness.

This year, she successfully completed her stint as the World Bank Vice President Africa Division, a position to which she was appointed in 2007. As vice-president she was in charge of the bank’s operations in 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and supervised a lending portfolio of over $40 billion.

Her career trajectory since then, more than that of any other Nigerian, has followed international best practice. For instance, she has established herself in the Nigerian and international speaking circuits since she left the World Bank.

Her moral authority has been a great selling point, which is not a surprise, considering that she was a co-founder of Transparency International and served as one of its pioneer directors. As a senior economic advisor for Open Society, a group founded by billionaire George Soros, she advises 9 reform committed African heads of state including Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia.

On October 1, 2012, one of the world’s leading telecommunications firm, Bharti Airtel, with operations in 20 countries, named Ezekwesili as a director on its board. She is also on the board of The Harold Hartog School of Government and Policy.


Prof. Barth Nnaji: Nnaji, 51, holds a Doctorate in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in the United States. He is also a tenured professor of Computer Integrated Manufacturing and Robotics in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania, also in the United States.

Nnaji built upon his previous experience in Nigeria’s power sector to create his company. In 1993, he served as Nigeria’s Federal Minister of Science and Technology. In 2000, along with his joint venture partner Renatech International Limited, Nnaji built and managed a successful 15MW emergency power station in Abuja.

Nnaji was at the forefront of implementing the federal government’s Power Roadmap which saw gradual progress before he was ousted from his position as power minister.

He is on the Board of several companies and organizations including the Governing Board of the Nigerian National Merit Award.


– The Nigerian: For surviving against all odds. When the pump price of fuel was increased and packaged as a New Year’s gift, the future seemed bleak. But The Nigerian has come through. From bomb blasts, to air mishaps, to monumental fraud, The Nigerian not only survived  but continues to believe in the country’s redemption.


As announced on Twitter, the voting proper starts by noon today and ends at 11:59pm on December 28.

The announcement of the selection for YNaija Person of the Year is on the last day of the year, December 31, 2012.

Click HERE to start voting!!


NOTE: There will be no award given to the winner, and this year, no event. The winner and the public will be officially notified of the selection, with an essay detailing rationale, impact and significance for the future.

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