The editors of Y! – TV, Magazine & Online – today announced the shortlist for Y!/YNaija.com Person of the Year 2016.
The Y!/YNaija.com Person of the Year is in its sixth year and is awarded to the individual who has most visibly influenced the Nigerian society for good in the past year, breaking new boundaries or consolidating on gains – and driving the advancement of the public, especially young people.
The editors announced there was no winner for its first edition in 2011. The 2012 winner was entrepreneur and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote. The 2013 winner was tech industry trailblazer, Jason Njoku and the 2014 winner was Obiageli Ezekwesili for championing active citizenship and entrenching the idea of the ‘Office of the Citizen’. Last year, citizen Josephine Ugwu, the honest airport cleaner who found and returned the precious sum of N12 million in cash was named Person of the Year.
The shortlist is announced following the decision of editors as well as feedback from readers and social media audiences. Voting commences today, Wednesday, 2 November and closes after a month on Monday, 5 December.
The Y!/YNaija.com Person of the Year 2016 shortlist:
AY Makun, entertainment
Peter Obi, politics
Dapo Olorunyomi, media
Emir Muhammadu Sanusi, public service
Kashim Shettima, politics
Bukky Shonibare, advocacy
The Chibok Girls, citizens
The Paralympic Team, sports
The Nigerian Techie, technology
AY Makun, 45
Accept it or not, AY Makun is presently Nigeria’s funniest man. From AY Live to The AY Show, AY’s Crib to AY’s Open Mic, the span of products his Corporate World Entertainment has been able to turn into money spinning business ventures is quite something to behold. A Trip to Jamaica, the sequel to 2014’s record breaking 30 Days in Atlanta has quickly become the highest grossing film of the year, this, despite hostile reviews, and is set to surpass even the gross of 30 Days. While his contemporaries have been comfortable in their traditional spaces, AY envisaged the future and began to invest in the Internet. His YouTube Channel, home to hundreds of original and lifted content is one of the most visited in the country with well over 230,000 subscribers. As a business brand, AY has been peerless, creating a new model of value and helping to nurture a new generation of funny men.
Peter Obi, 55
2016 has been a dismal year for politicians but it took Peter Obi’s much buzzed about appearance at The Covenant Christian Centre’s annual agenda setting event, The Platform to remind us that politics, and the men who play it still possess the power to inspire and spark meaningful conversations that echo beyond boring banalities. At stake was the legacy of the former governor of Anambra state and with his speech at The Platform, Peter Obi took his time to eloquently give account of his underrated but mostly effective tenure in public office, one that has been credited with serving as a model for public administration and with time, has become the foundation for Anambra’s impressive achievements in terms of monetary and fiscal responsibility. Daring to take a stand, Obi took advantage of the moment to direct much needed attention to the perils of government waste, an expensive habit that continues to eat away at the economic fabric. And he’s walked his talk. Anambra state is one of only a handful of states that has not owed salaries since the economic downturn began and Governor Obiano’s administration is in a position to provide generous economic stimulus packages only because of Peter Obi’s foresight and financial prudence while in office.
This year, Dapo Olorunyomi quietly divested himself of the responsibility of running the day to day operations of Premium Times, Nigeria’s most influential online newsroom and transitioned to the non-executive role of Publisher. In 4 short but eventful years Olorunyomi has led a team that has been relentless in its pursuit of government accountability. Olorunyomi has for the past 25 years been a pivotal part of the Nigerian media narrative, having co-founded both TEMPO newspaper and The News magazines. He led the enterprise unit of the defunct NEXT newspaper and it was the essentially the paper’s powerful investigative reporting team that broke out to constitute the initial Premium Times team. Premium Times, under Olorunyomi’s leadership, has been the undisputed leader for online news – relentless in shaking politicians, unseating government officials and keeping audiences excited. Olorunyomi oversaw the Nigerian leg of the release of the worldwide exclusive Panama Papers and has commissioned revealing investigations into the budget padding scandal as well as some of the biggest corruption stories of the year. No one gets to the root of breaking stories like Premium Times and it is all because of Olorunyomi’s singular vision.
The story of the Nigerian athletes at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is one of triumphing against the odds and succeeding in spite of Nigeria. After Team Nigeria’s disappointing single Bronze medal finish at the Rio Summer Olympics, it took the formidable outing by the Paralympic team once again, to halt the country’s Olympic woes and place Nigeria on the path to sporting glory. By the time the games were over, Team Nigeria finished seventeenth on the medals table with an impressive haul of 8 gold, 2 silver and 2 bronze medals. New stars were born and athletes like Lucy Ejike, the 38 year old power lifter who has shattered the Paralympic and world record three successive times and Lauritta Onye, the Shot Put gold medalist and world record holder got some deserved recognition. There weren’t many things to smile about this year but the Paralympics team was one silver lining.
Emir Muhammadu Sanusi II, 55
After a distinguished career in banking was terminated in 2014, (no) thanks to his suspension as Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, after exposing an unprecedented scale of rot in the country’s petroleum company, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was selected Emir of Kano and has remained an active and engaged citizen, speaking out fearlessly on matters of national and economic interest, and standing as a principled and effective conscience for the Muhammadu Buhari led federal government. In his present role as royal father and traditional leader, Emir Sanusi has deployed his background in financial affairs to offer criticism to the CBN’s questionable monetary policy decisions and has advised government on the need for greater fiscal responsibility and economic and political restructuring. At a time when members of the elite have found it more convenient to maintain an uneasy silence, Sanusi’s voice has become a vital one, speaking truth to power and affecting change in the process.
Kashim Shettima, 50
Governor Kashim Shettima of Borno state is proving to be a shining example for a different kind of political leadership, one that has its roots in empathy and a genuine concern for the welfare of his people. Borno state for most of his tenure has largely been a theatre of war but Shettima has kept his feet grounded and provided leadership even in the most difficult of times. As chief security officer, Shettima was one of the early callers at Chibok community, walking the talk while other parties dallied. He has been at the forefront of every single initiative to not only bring back and rehabilitate the missing Chibok girls, but also the thousands of other citizens lost to the Boko Haram insurgency. Only last month, Shettima announced a temporary relocation to Bama, Gwoza and Lassa some of the communities worst hit by the insurgency to supervise ongoing reconstruction process and support the troops serving there. It takes strength of will, empathy and a certain level of grace to govern during traumatic times. Governor Shettima is up to the task.
Since the day she first picked up a placard in November 2014, as her way of advocating for the release of the 276 girls taken from a Government Secondary School in Chibok Borno state, Bukky Shonibare has not looked back. Even while the hashtag has since stopped trending, and the international advocacy community moved on to other news, Shonibare has remained dedicated to the plight of the missing Chibok girls. Users of Twitter are likely to have come across a picture of Shonibare displaying a placard with a loud reminder of the exact number of days the girls have been in captivity. She uploads these pictures every day, in good health or bad, no matter what part of the world she finds herself. This powerful-in-its-own-way imagery supports the work that Shonibare does with and outside of the #BBOG group, one that includes sit outs, marches, relief material provision to IDP camps and a constant reminder to the world that our job isn’t done till every one of the girls is brought home.
The Chibok Girls
In April 2014, about 276 girls were kidnapped from their Federal Government Secondary School in Chibok, a little heard of community in Borno state by Boko Haram terrorists. While the government of the day let political considerations cloud its judgement, the terrorists made good time. Two years later and a good number of the girls are still missing. But sustained advocacy from civil society groups led by the #BringBackOurGirls movement has kept the issue of the girls on the front burner even when the rest of the world appeared to have moved on. This year recorded the biggest success for the #BBOG movement yet and heightened hope for the eventual release of all the girls as 21 of the Chibok schoolgirls were freed by Boko Haram. This turn of events signifies a triumph of the human spirit in ways that no other event in recent times has been able to capture. For the girls who survived the trauma of captivity for over two years, for their parents who held on and refused to let go, for the #BBOG group who marched on come sun and rain, demanding action from their government. For the men of the armed forces, applying brain and brawn to eliminate the enemy, and for the rest of the girls still in captivity, hope that someday soon, their turn would come.
The Nigerian Techie
All of the good news coming out of Nigeria this year was almost always technology related. Don’t agree? Recall just some of the giant strides this year that eventually lead to Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg‘s landmark visit to Lagos. Two year old start up, Andela co-founded by Iyinoluwa Aboyeji secured $24 million in a round led by Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan’s fund, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. It also scored a new investor, GV in the fresh round of financing. The Spark funded real estate business ToLet raised US$1.2-million from Frontier Digital Ventures through a Series A round of funding. The Lagos Angel Network invested 50million Naira in Café Neo and Big Cabal Media. In terms of impact, BudgIT has been in the thick of the budget padding fiasco and continues to lead the charge for improved transparency in government spending. In all this, Zuckerberg’s unannounced visit to the tech hubs in Yaba validates the drive and resilience of young Nigerian minds working hard to create something out of nothing. And hints of the greatness yet to emerge from these spaces.
If there is any entertainer home or abroad presently flying Nigeria’s flag higher than this 26 year old superstar with roots in Ojuelegba, Surulere, we haven’t met them. Born Ayodeji Balogun, Wizkid achieved the unthinkable when he helped Canadian rapper, Drake secure his first Billboard Hot 100 number one as a lead artiste with the single One Dance. Also featuring British singer Kyla, One Dance spent ten non-consecutive weeks at the summit of the US charts and sold 1.8million copies in the US alone, becoming the most played song ever on music streaming service Spotify, with over 903 million individual streams. Counting Alicia Keys and her producer husband, Swizz Beatz as fans, Wizkid is the first Nigerian artiste to achieve any of these feats, in the process, clearing the way for performers that will surely come after. From London to Laos, Cairo to Cape Verde, the new sound of World music is Afrobeats and Wizkid is at the forefront of artistes creatively marketing Nigeria to the world. Everyone else is mostly following his lead.
There will be no award or ceremony for the Y!/YNaija.com Person of the Year 2016. The winner will be notified formally and an announcement made to the public on Friday, 30 December, with an essay detailing rationale, impact and significance.
The public can begin to vote below.