Advocacy work is hard tasking, unsexy and incredibly frustrating. But the results yielded are extremely rewarding and can make the world a better place. The annual #YNaijaPowerList enters its 5th year, and 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.
Ifeoma Adibe’s AYECI Africa is a non-profit organization on a mission to improve the prospects and living conditions of the most disadvantaged population in Africa, through a variety of interventions that expand access to education and employment opportunities. AYECI Africa has worked with various implementing partners and sponsors like Microsoft, Pearson to deliver on initiatives like The Educate-A-Community program, Play for Literacy and #1MillionGiftofLiteracy campaign.
The Sickle Cell Aid Foundation (SCAF) was set up by Azinge in 2010 to amplify awareness on Sickle Cell Anaemia and to raise funds for the provision of quality medical care especially for indigent sickle cell patients and their families. Based in Abuja, Azinge who was inspired to start the foundation by a twin sister living with the condition was invited to meet with the Queen of England last year on the strength of her work. SCAF enlisted presidential daughter Zahra Buhari to serve as ambassador.
Esther Ijewere Kalejaiye is the executive director of Rubies Ink initiative, an outfit devoted to youth advocacy, public relations and social enterprise solutions. Rubies Ink organises the Walk Against Rape (WAR), to give voice and support to victims of rape while demanding justice for the perpetrators. A weekly Guardian column, Women of Rubies builds capacity and inspirational initiative for women and young girls nationwide.
Nuhu Kwajafa has been doing the hard work of charity, philantrophy and advocacy long before the hashtags. Though from a privileged background, he set up his NGO, The Global Initiative for Peace Love and Care (GIPLC) to support and care for homeless kids and orphans. According to GIPLC reports, Kwajafa has raised over 100 million Naira for medical treatments for kids in need. His work on nutrition, education and healthcare extends beyond Nigeria to war torn regions like Sudan.
It has been quite the busy year for Olumide Makanjuola and The Initiative for Equal Rights (TIERS) which he leads in the capacity of executive director. After celebrating 10 years of advocacy and activism on behalf of the LGBT community at a well-attended ceremony, TIERS premiered Hell or Highwater, a short film on the Nigerian gay experience and launched the sexual rights YouTube series, Untold Facts. TIERS also scored high profile grants from the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
Philip Obaji Jr
Philip Obaji Jnr’s 1 GAME campaign has shown courage and commitment in advocating for basic primary education for street children popularly called Almajiris in North-East Nigeria. For four years now, Obaji Jr and his volunteering team have been meeting with community leaders in North-East states of Borno, Yobe and Gombe to encourage parents to send their children to tuition-free public primary schools rather than to Almajiri Mallams. He was named Young Person of the Year at The Future Awards Africa event in 2015.
Olumayowa Okediran leads a crop of young people across Africa dedicated to promoting human rights and individual liberties as well as market-based solutions to Africa’s problems. He founded African Students for Liberty in Nigeria in 2013, the organization quickly expanded to 10 African countries networking and training thousands of young Africans with hubs in several Universities across Africa.
Omikunle is the tenacious young lady behind Teach For Nigeria, a not-for-profit NGO focused on bridging educational inequity by expanding education opportunities for the less privileged. Teach For Nigeria walks the talk by running a paid fellowship program where graduates and professionals are placed in underserved schools as full time tutors to improve outcomes in terms of education and opportunities while inspiring behavioural and academic changes.
Seun Onigbinde is so powerful, Bill Gates knows his name, and shady government officials know to fear him. He fights for institutionalized transparency in government processes through BudgIT, a Co Creation Hub-incubated. BudgIT was instrumental in blowing the lid off the budget padding mess that tainted the Buhari led federal government and has consistently led the charge for an open national assembly in terms of finances and budgeting.
Soft spoken Yasmin Belo-Osagie is a combination of beauty, pluck and brains. A management professional with a focus on developing growth strategies, Belo-Osagie co-founded She Leads Africa in 2014, and leads the enterprise’s events and offline programming team. SLA delivers value to the community by producing events and online content to give young African women the skills and resources they need to achieve their professional goals.