by Wilfred Okiche
Advocacy work is hard, unsexy and incredibly frustrating. But the results yielded are extremely rewarding and improve upon the quality of life of the targeted population. As the annual #YNaijaPowerList enters its 4th year, we bring you the most influential young Nigerians under 40 who are successfully making their voices heard and leaving a legacy to be proud of. From human and sexual rights activists to development leaders working in health and education, these are the power 10.
Jaiyeoba is so cool, President Obama knows her name. At the Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African leaders held last year, the leader of the free world singled her out for praise for her work with expecting mothers in rural areas of Nigeria. Her Brown Button Foundation trains birth attendants in emergency and routine obstetric care while her mother delivery kits provides delivery kits for use at childbirth to women who need them the most. The United States African Development Foundation helps to cover distribution hiccups and get the kits to the women.
Akpan’s community-based organization – UCARE Foundation Nigeria emerged from his volunteer work with the Society for Family Health. UCARE’s partnership with MTV’s Staying Alive Foundation (a 3-year $36,000 grant) has enabled about thousands of young people nationwide secure access to quality HIV information, counselling and testing. Akpan is a nominee of The Future Awards Africa prize
Hadiza Bala Usman
Almost a year ago, hundreds of school girls were abducted from their school, a federal government college in Chibok, Borno state. The political class moved on like nothing happened, the rest of us nearly moved on too. But the courage and doggedness of the #BringBackOurGirls group, founded by Usman and Oby Ezekwesili kept the girls on the front burner of national (and international) discourse. The group weathered a hostile government, violent attackers and doubting thomases to organise daily sit outs at the country’s capital. This sit outs eventually spread to rallies organised in different parts of the world.
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. TIERS, founded in 2006, 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.
Orode Uduaghan Okpu
Orode Ryan Okpu is the daughter of the Governor Uduaghan of Delta state but that is the last thing she wants to be known for. Her Pink Pearl Foundation represents a consistently growing force against breast cancer with over 50 programmes, seminars and health checks organised since inception in 2007. The Pink Pearl foundation recently took their breast and cervical cancer screening and awareness campaign to neigbouring Cameroon where over 100 women participated. What she did next? She trained her sights on Nollywood and produced the AMVCA-nominated film ‘Living funeral’ starring actress turned evangelist Liz Benson.
A 2 time winner of The Future Awards Africa, Orandaam decided to concentrate on his developmental calling during his 1 year NYSC programme. He started Slum 2 school, an initiative that seeks to harness resources towards bridging the enrolment gap into schools between Orphans/Vulnerable out-of-school children and children in school, through the provision of educational scholarships and other psycho-social support programs.
Sangosanya’s LOTS charity foundation cares for children living in a slum community on the outskirts of Lagos, Nigeria. LOTS provides services to children to keep them in school and off the streets. Sangosanya gathers monetary support as well as donations, school supplies and clothing, from other stake holders and works with other volunteers to provide at least one meal per day. The children also benefit from classes focused on literacy, financial management, reproductive health and computer usage.
Victoria Ibezim-Ohaeri is the founder and executive director of Spaces for Change – an organization that works with the youth, women and communities to discover and activate their potential to lead and hold leaders accountable. At Spaces for Change, she is responsible for the strategic development and management of complex poverty-focused programs that utilize legal, youth and community action as powerful instruments for actualizing the poor’s continuing struggle for inclusive governance, human rights and social justice. S4C has done some work on the Petroleum Industry Bill and has investigated and documented human rights atrocities committed by state and non-state actors in internal armed conflict situations.
Soft spoken Yasmin Belo-Osagie is a billionaire’s daughter all right, but she is one who insists on making a difference. A management professional with a focus on developing growth strategies, Belo-Osogie co-founded She Leads Africa in 2014, and set up a competitive social enterprise program, where female entrepreneurs with their corresponding enterprises, selected from almost 400 applicants across 27 countries pitch in front of a panel of notable business personalities for the grand prize of $10, 000.
As the executive director of the 5 year old 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- and Lord knows there are countless of them. The Adamolekun led EIE has been in the forefront of applying pressure to government, criticizing ill-advised policies and offering alternative, workable solutions. EIE Nigeria has held town hall meetings, seminars, rallies and organised electoral debates.