Past winners of the Young Person Of The Year Award have included Tosin Otitoju, who took home the prize at the inaugural ceremony in 2006, and Idris Akinbanjo, who won the last edition. Other winners include Tara Fela-Durotoye in 2007, Chimamanda Adichie in 2008, D’Banj in 2009, Ify Aniebo in 2010, and Nnaemeka Ikegwuonu in 2011.
Check out profiles on the winners below.
Tosin Otitoju is a Summa Cum Laude Graduate of Electrical Engineering from Howard University, a feat which resulted in her becoming the first ever Howard graduate recipient of the Poincaré Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology for postgraduate studies. In 2004, she received a national merit award (FRM) from the Nigerian government.She has also had a teaching stint in Yola, Adamawa State, and currently lectures at the Department of Systems Engineering, University of Lagos. She is an Associate of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative, and holds a Masters degree in Control and Dynamical Systems from Caltech. She is also an author, and has published a collection of poetry, Comrade, released in 2010. She was actively involved in Caltech Theater Arts (2002-2006) as an actress in five full productions, including Molière’s The Misanthrope, Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure and As You Like It, and modern works: Inspiration by Iona Morris and Krishna by Sid Jaggi of OASIS.
Tara Fela-Durotoye is a makeup artist and lawyer. She launched the first bridal directory in 1999, set up international standard makeup studio, and established the first makeup school in Nigeria. She is the founder and current CEO of House of Tara International the creator of the Tara Orekelewa Beauty range, Inspired Perfume and the H.I.P Beauty range.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Nigeria’s literature Queen, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, was born in Enugu and grew up in Nsukka, at the University of Nigeria. She studied medicine and pharmacy at the University of Nigeria for a year and a half, before leaving, at the age of 19, to the United States. She originally studied communications and political science at Drexel University in Philadelphia, before transferring to Eastern Connecticut State University. She received a bachelor’s degree from Eastern, (Summa Cum Laude) in 2001, and completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University, in 2003. Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was published in 2003 and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004) and was awarded the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book (2005). Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, was released in 2006, and won the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her latest novel, Americanah, was released earlier this year.
Ify Aniebo has a first degree in Medical Genetics from Queen Mary’s University. She also got an MSc in Applied Biomolecular Technology from Nottingham University and went on to receive a scholarship from the Prince’s Trust. She went on to pursue a PhD at Oxford University on a fully funded scholarship from the Wellcome Trust, the Tropical Network Fund and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She has carried out research at the Wellcome-Oxford-WHO unit in Thailand. Passionate about finding a cure to Malaria, this has been her main area of research, her goal is to discover a vaccine to the biggest killer disease in sub-Saharan Africa. She scored a double-whammy in 2010 by winning both the Young Person Of The Year and the Scientist Of The Year awards.
Nnaemeka Chidiebere Ikegwuonu is a BMW Foundation “Young Leader”. He is committed to helping farmers in southeast Nigeria improve their livelihoods while implementing agricultural practices that, maximise productivity and sustainablity. He holds a bachelor of arts degree from Imo State University in Nigeria and a master’s degree in Cooperation and Development from the University of Pavia in Italy, where he wrote his final paper on the link between poverty reduction and sustainable environmental management. Now the executive director of the Smallholders Foundation, he is working to hone his skills in communicating about the subject of sustainability research, and holds daily radio broadcasts to 250,000 subsistence farmers.
Idris Akinbajo beat out Banky W, D’banj, PSquare, Chinwe Njoku, and Linda Ikeji to clinch the top prize in 2012. Akinbajo, who is currently the Head of Investigation at Premium Times was an investigative journalist at NEXT newspapers. He won the African Investigative Journalist of the Year, the Nigerian Investigative Journalist of the year 2011, best Nigerian investigative story in print, and second best Nigerian investigative story (Online) at the 2011 Wole Soyinka Investigative Reporting Awards. He was also a finalist at the 2012 CNN/Multichoice African Journalist of the Year Awards held in Lusaka, Zambia.