by Doyin Jaiyesinmi
The Central Working Committee (CWC) for The Future Awards, which the World Bank has called “The Nobel Prize for Young Africans”, has again decided to unveil the long list for the biggest award, Young Person of the Year before the full list.
As is the tradition, the nominees for Young Person of the Year have been taken out of the various categories as always and identified as trailblazing role models for young Nigerians – all except for the Science and Technology categories; and that is a deliberate exception to encourage and spotlight more high-impact activity in those sectors.
“All of the Young Person of the Year nominees are winners,” Atafo said. “They are honorees and will yet again all be given plaques. Also, they will not go through the four stages of judging for the awards, only one stage for voting and one stage for judging. These guys inspire us!”
YOUNG PERSON OF THE YEAR HONOUREES 2012
Bankole Wellington [Banky W] (Musician/Entrepreneur/Activist) 31
Known primarily as a musician, Banky W has however transcended that label: emerging not just as one of the nation’s leading talents, but also building an inspiring business with Empire Mates Entertainment that has created superstars like Wizkid. Banky also leads the stage as an activist passionate about Nigeria – proving this with his involvements in everything from the What About Us? Youth Debate to #OccupyNigeria. Banky is not just an entertainment personality. He is a national figure of hope and love of country. He is a leader.
Chinwe Njoku (Engineer) 26
Njoku recently won the The Sir Robert Martin University Prize at the Loughborough University in the United Kingdom, which is the premier award of the University and consists of an award of £1,500 plus a commemorative medal. Beyond that, Njoku stands out for including significant published research that has benefited the wider community. In total she has 12 peer-reviewed publications (10 as 1st author). This includes the IEEE Transactions on Antennas & Propagation Journal (the most prestigious journal in the field) and the IEEE Antennas and Wireless Propagation Letters (Special Issue on Metamaterials). This groundbreaking research will continue in a major £600,000 major interdisciplinary government grant.
Dapo Oyebanjo [D’banj] (Musician/Entertainment Entrepreneur) 32
D’banj is not just an artiste – he is an idea. Having broken every single boundary in the Nigerian, and African, music industry through Mo’Hits Records, he has became a trailblazer for artistes reaching for an international market, with his exploits with GOOD music and his newly formed D’banj Records. As he told the UK Observer, “I see what I’m doing now as the bridge that we’ve been looking for from Africa to the mainstream world. I want others to see the potential in my country, other than our oil and natural resources.” He’s on his way to achieving that.
Jason Njoku (Media Entrepreneur) 31
Njoku is at the forefront of Nigeria’s digital revolution – he didn’t begin it, he doesn’t own, but for much of the world he impressively represents it. With his sexy Iroko TV brand tagged the ‘Netflix of Africa’, he is the world’s largest distributor of African movies. His company raised $8 million in venture capital from Tiger Global Management, a New York based Private Equity and hedge fund run by billionaire Chase Coleman, has distribution deals with Dailymotion, iTunes, Amazon and Vimeo and has been said to be worth as much as $30 million dollars.
Peter and Paul Okoye [Psquare] (Musician/Entertainment Entrepreneur) 31
This inspiring brothers are easily the #1 in African music. That success is apparent in their high-profile shows/tours across the continent, their endorsements and the mega-launch of their last album in 2011. Their video featuring American super-star Rick Ross continues to be a talking point across the music industry; and in addition to signing with Akon’s Konvict Muzik, they are also signed to the Universal Music Group. Currently, this music duo is the artiste with the highest YouTube video views of over 25,000,000 in the continent.
Linda Ikeji (Blogger/Media Entrepreneur) 31
She is the most influential Nigerian online – and it is a position she has wielded with flair and a keen sense of history. There are those who see Linda as a blogger peddling soft stories, but she has become much more than that, influencing issues, driving conversations and doing good. Linda’s influence can be seen in her spotlighting #ABSURape, involving a young woman in Abia State, profiling Oke, the young man who almost lost his leg due to complications from diabetes, and taking up the cause of Blessing Effiom. These three issues caught the attention of the nation – and it was because Linda took it seriously. She is a phenomenon.
Idris Akinbajo (Journalist) 30
Starting with NEXT Newspapers and now as Head of the Investigative Desk at Premium Times, he has worked quietly and stealthily to reveal most of the rot in Nigeria’s politics and economy – with exclusive revelations in aviation, campaign finance and more. That work has not gone unnoticed; winning him awards including African Investigative Journalist of the Year, Nigerian Investigative Journalist of the Year, Best Nigerian investigative story in print, and Second best Nigerian investigative story (online). He has now been announced a finalist for the CNN/Multichoice African Journalist 2012. Akinbajo is a journalist’s vision.
Raheem Temitope Bello (Scientist) 19
Bello has two undergraduate degrees – in Astronomy and Physics with Special Honours and is already a doctoral student; all before he turned 19. For most of his undergraduate years, he conducted research in a condensed matter physics lab; refurbishing the thermal conductivity probe and fabricating unique thermocouples of 0.001” in order to measure temperature gradient. During his 2+ years of research, he has presented his work at various conferences and given an oral presentation at the American Physical Society (APS). Presently, he is working on the devolvement of a startup energy utility company, GeoUtill. GeoUtill leverages geothermal energy to supply homes with clean, sustainable, and dependable energy. Since receiving feedback from applying to startup incubator competitions, GeoUtill has refocused on its mission. GeoUtill believes that there is an abundance of energy all around us, which can supply all of the energy demands. We are currently working on the development of a new type of a low cost solar panel, that may be deployed any where in the world without access to an energy grid. And he is still in his teens!
“Note that, due to the adjusted The Future Awards calendar – it was moved from its traditional January to August, the period in review is October 2010 – May 2012,” Atafo added. “Nominees who were still 31 years as at March 2011 (six months into the period in review) are therefore eligible.”
Previous Young Person of the Year winners include malaria scientist Ify Aniebo, award-winning writer Chimamanda Adichie, NASA scholar Tosin Otitoju, amongst others. Last year, agriculture entrepreneur and advocate Nnaemekan Ikegwuonu beat Genevieve Nnaji, Don Jazzy, Psquare and others to clinch the top prize.