For the seventh 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 deeply influential.
Muhammad Sani Abdullahi
When Mallam Nasir El-Rufai took over the reins of Kaduna, he invited Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, a development economist and public policy specialist. With over 12 year experience in development policy, finance and project implementation, including a stint at the United Nations Secretary General’s office, Abdullahi is a fit for the state ministry of budget and planning. As commissioner, Abdullahi is planning for the future, evidenced by his design of the 32 year Kaduna State Infrastructure Plan. He is a member of the World Bank expert advisory council on citizen engagement.
Abimbola was a PhD student when he was announced the inaugural Editor in Chief of British Medical Journal Global Health. His work in one of science’s prestige publications since then has been about defining global health and how it could transform global health practice, research and journals. The BMJ Global Health under Abimbola’s watch has tried to make the argument for decolonising global health by publishing research that centres the direct beneficiaries.
Brimah is the Special Assistant to the President on Internally Displaced Persons and Social Investments, domiciled in the Office of the Vice President. In this capacity, Brimah works on the North East Humanitarian technology hub, an innovation space where ideas to tackle humanitarian challenges are developed. The North-East Makeathon, an intensive programme to crowdsource and support innovative solutions to the humanitarian issues in North East Nigeria is a potential winner.
The former MD of Tinapa Business & Leisure Resort, Asuquo Ekpenyong has been pulling double duties in Cross River for a while now. A cabinet reschedule gave him the extra responsibility of overseeing the ministry of transport and marine services as commissioner. This is in addition to his primary appointment as commissioner for finance. In a post-recession economy, Ekpenyong has had his work cut out for him shoring up state revenue and reintroducing fiscal responsibility to the state finances. He holds a Msc. Distinction in International Banking and Financial Services from the University of Reading.
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.
As the current head of Agriculture and Healthcare Advisory West Africa, UK Department for International Trade with the British Deputy High Commission, Ibijoke Faborode helps facilitate trade between both countries and improves agricultural co-operation and bilateral trade. She provides sectorial leadership to five principal countries across anglophone and francophone West Africa, on international trade relations. This involves analysing emerging trade and commercial issues, reviewing trade and sectorial policies and advising senior management on risk mitigation.
Victoria Fajemilehin has experience working in development across Nigeria and the United Kingdom and her present post is with Synergos Nigeria as a program advisor. She earned an MSc. in International Public Policy from University College London (UCL) and a First Class Honours degree in European Languages (French) from the University of Lagos, Nigeria. Fajemilehin has presented papers on international policies at the Joint Faculty Institute of Graduate Studies and her focus is on providing solutions to policy and development problems facing governments and institutions.
Damilola Ogunbiyi has been shattering glass ceilings since she became the first female general manager of the Lagos State Electricity Board where she supervised the launch of the five independent power plants in the state. As the first female managing director of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA), Ogunbiyi is responsible for increasing electricity access to rural and underserved clusters across the country. The agency’s off-grid electrification strategy provides uninterrupted power to 37 Federal Universities, seven teaching hospitals and markets in Kano and Abia states.
Senior Special Assistant to Geoffrey Onyeama, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Seun Omobo put together the launch of the Nigerian Economic Diplomacy Initiative (NEDI) at the presidential villa. The idea behind NEDI is to help Nigerian professionals in the diaspora get jobs very easily within the country and also open Nigerian businesses to opportunities in every country where there is an embassy or mission. Omobo has consulted for the World Bank.
Remember the teenage girls from Anambra who won a tech competition in Silicon Valley? This win was made possible because of the work that Uchenna Onwuamaegbu-Ugwu has been putting in for the last half-decade. The CEO of Edufun Technik, a startup that focuses on creating awareness on the importance of STEM education by designing simple STEM learning tools, delivering quality hands-on STEM trainings for school students, teachers, and school administrators. Edufun Technik also designs STEM mentorship programs for girls pursuing careers in STEM-related disciplines.