#YPolitics100: The YNaija 100 Most Influential Voices in Nigerian Politics – Nyesom Wike, Okonjo-Iweala, Sowore, Saraki, Falana makes 2020 list

Every year, YNaija shows commitment to focused debates on national and sub-national politics and its role in progressive development. In this light, we dig deep – through the surface and below water level – to highlight the 100 most influential political players in the country. This year, we are doing the same, and have selected men and women of valour and honour as we continue to edge towards true democracy and responsible leadership.

These men and women have shown strength in their various playing fields with their resilient participation on the political scene and it is our civic duty to bring them to you. We are excited and we hope this list inspires and excites you as much as us at YNaija. We call it #YPolitics100.

Let’s introduce you to them:

 

Rotimi Amaechi 

Who wins the power tussle between Rotimi and Nyesom? That was what our debates centred on when the latter was about to be elected in 2015 and re-elected in 2019. Rotimi was a member of then ruling party, PDP, before defecting to the APC, so you know Nyesom and Rotimi have a history together.  

Rotimi was governor of oil-rich Rivers until 2015 and has remained a force in the State’s politics. His influence has transcended the state and yo

u might want to talk about how Rotimi leads Buhari’s plan to connect all of Nigeria perfectly well so transportation across the country becomes a seamless activity.  

His transition to Minister started with his first office as Secretary of the now-defunct National Republican Convention in Ikwerre Local Government Area of Rivers. Between 1992 and 1994, he was the Rivers’ Secretary of the Democratic Party of Nigeria (DPN) caretaker committee in 1996 during the transition programme of General Sani Abacha and later became Special Assistant to the Governor of Rivers, Peter Odili with the return to democracy.

Having been a two-time Speaker at the Rivers House of Assembly, two-time Governor of the state, two-time Minister of the Federal Republic and Director-General for the Presidential Campaign Council of former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, as well as President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 and 2019, Rt. Hon. Amaechi remains a towering personality in the Nigerian political space.

Sadam Bello 

The advent of the intentional efforts towards youth participation in politics is yielding results. There is, yet, a long way to go but the country is already on course. And with Sadam winning a seat in Gombe Assembly, there is hope for other youths to take an active part in the country’s politics.  

Sadam, 29, has the plaque of being the youngest State Assembly Member in Gombe elected to represent Funakaye North.

When the youth unite and push for one of their own, you know the narrative is about to change.  

Sadiya Umar Farouq 

When the Humanitarian Affairs Ministry was announced and Sadiya said to lead the ministry, questions flew around as to why these jobs were taken from the office of the Vice President and given to her. It became a national debate, but, did not last too long.  

Sadiya is a Nigerian politician currently serving as the minister of newly created Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development. Appointed in July 2019, she is the youngest minister in the current federal cabinet and seen to be one of the closest ministers to President Buhari in the current cabinet and many refer to her as a “super minister.”

Her relationship with President Buhari dates back to Buhari’s days as the Leader and Presidential Candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, (CPC) when Sadiya was the National Treasurer of the party (2011-2013) and later, National Treasurer of the All Progressives Congress (APC). 

In December 2019, Farouk was queried by the Office of the President for exercising powers beyond her official briefs by employing more aides than officially approved and delaying the monthly stipend of Npower Volunteers, a social intervention programme of the Federal Government. 

Salihu Yakubu Danladi 

Salihu is one of the few young Nigerians who contested in the 2019 elections and won the seat. 35-year-old Danladi, described as a simple, passionate, humble, intelligent, firm, disciplined, calm, versatile and pragmatic young man,  is the Speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly, despite being a first-time honourable member representing Ilesha-Gwanara constituency. 

His political resume is laden with experience in different capacities. He is the one young Speaker you want to watch out for to see how he translates this leadership role, where he needs to exert more mental capacity.  

In 2011, he was the Youth Coordinator of the Buhari Campaign Organisation under CPC (Kwara North Senatorial District). And in 2015, he was the Youth Coordinator for Engr. Yinusa Yahaya Campaign Organisation under PDP (Kwara North Senatorial District). 

During the electioneering campaign, he said his mission at House Assembly is to introduce bills/motions that will have an impact on people in his constituency as well as the overall development of Kwara.

Samson Itodo 

Samson Itodo has made his name in the political activism space through his tireless work to  build strong democratic institutions; promote people-centred legislations and policies and building a community of active citizens to drive social change through community organising. 

Samson is the convener of the Not Too Young To Run movement that successfully advocated for the reduction of age limits for running for public office in the Nigerian constitution. A campaign that was adopted by the United Nations, African Union and ECOWAS as a global campaign.  

He has facilitated the development of policy documents on electoral reform, international development cooperation, constitution review, public governance and political inclusion. He also provides strategic policy advice to parliamentary committees, electoral commissions, political parties, civil society organisations and academic institutions. Samson leads one of Nigeria’s largest citizens movement on electoral integrity, Watching The Vote 

Samson is the Executive Director of YIAGA AFRICA, a community of change-makers focused on building sustainable democracies in Africa anchored on the principles of inclusion, justice, accountability and constitutionalism. You can’t ignore this one.  

Aisha Alhassan  

Aisha was declared winner of the April 2015 Taraba gubernatorial election and became the first woman in Nigeria to be so declared, but this judgement was later reversed by the Appeal Court. 

In 2018, she resigned from her appointment as Minister of Women Affairs and decamped to the United Democratic Party (UDP) after she was screened out by the APC from contesting for the Governorship Seat. She was unanimously declared as the candidate for March 2019 Taraba State gubernatorial election under UDP, after the other candidate stepped down in her bid. 

Aisha later announced her defection back to PDP after the governorship election, which was won again by Darius Ishaku. 

Mama Taraba continues to exert influence in the state and, there’s a halfway certainty that she will contest again for the governorship seat.  

Seun Okin 

One of the most prominent journalists in the country with Channels Television, Seun is a multi-award-winning political and investigative journalist who has led the station’s team in the coverage of several elections in Nigeria, making his station the most-watched during elections. Seun’s reports have elicited government attention to seemingly forgotten communities and abandoned or neglected developmental projects.  

He hosts “Sunday Politics” and “Politics Today,” two of Nigeria’s most-watched political programs and has interviewed some of Nigeria’s most prominent leaders including serving Governors, federal lawmakers, and former leaders.

Seyi Makinde 

We only knew Seyi Makinde as a successful entrepreneur before he declared his intention to run for the office of Oyo Governor. Many political actors in and out of Oyo did not see his ‘coming’. “How will he win?” was the question that buzzed on lips in market places and hallowed government offices. But he did. And, while many thought the party – People’s Democratic Party (PDP) – under which he contested the election and remains a member is not the right platform, he has shown that ‘good eggs exist among bad eggs.’  

But Seyi lit the hopes of the average Oyo resident when he began to do the work. For months unending, he has continued to trend for one policy to another, and one planned project to the other. This is despite touching the lives of many in Oyo through philanthropy – scholarships, community projects, etc. even before he was elected Governor.

His quest to touch even more lives and a commitment to helping Oyo’s private sector create more job opportunities motivated his sojourn into politics.  For those who have come to understand that he is there for the work, they believe the Leader of the PDP in the South-West should contest for the Presidency in 2023. Let’s see how that goes.  

Sunday Dare 

Sunday must have seen the rot in the system before he became Minister. Or maybe he had studied the Ministry and the problems the country is facing in Sports and Youth Development and decided he will use his time to ensure problems find solutions.  

His online and offline engagement with Nigerians does not go unnoticed and he is one of the few Ministers who Nigerians have come to believe is here to ‘Change’ the status quo.  

Sunday holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in International Studies, Second Class Upper from Ahmadu Bello University Zaria and Masters in International Law with a Distinction from the University of Jos, Plateau. He has, at different times, been an Oxford University, United Kingdom Research Fellow; Harvard Nieman Journalism Fellow; and New York University Freedom Forum Fellow.      

Prior to his appointment as Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday served as Executive Commissioner (Stakeholder Management) at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) following his appointment in August 2016. 

He once said, first and foremost the ministry stands on two legs. Youth development and sports development. We are going to have necessary crucial conversation and engagement with all stakeholders when necessary to be able to empower not just the youths but also to develop sports to bring it at par with the global 21st-century sport.” 

Mamman Daura 

Mamman is a Nigerian newspaper journalist who was Editor of the New Nigerian from 1969 to 1973. In the late 1970s, he served on several government boards and agencies including the News Agency of Nigeria, and in the 1980s was Chairman of the Nigerian Television Authority and Africa International Bank (a subsidiary of Bank of Credit and Commerce International). He is the famed nephew and longtime close associate of President Buhari, as well as a prominent member of the infamous Kaduna Mafia; a loose group of Nigerian businessmen, civil servants, intellectuals and military officers from Northern Nigeria. 

Mamman Daura has continued to demonstrate that gentlemanliness as an honourable trait which only those groomed in the best traditions can recognise.

As long as the idea of a Kaduna Mafia continues to disturb the sleep of the average Nigerian, Mamman’s name will continue to ring bells. He does not have any presidential or ministerial authority and so, will not be caught giving directives or speaking on political or economic issues, but will always be regarded as the fabled head of a nebulous cabal at the Presidency.

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Farooq Kperogi 

Farooq has been a consistent political commentator, sharing his revolutionary ideas not just on social media but also in prestigious print and online media platforms. He has helped shape public perception on Nigerian politics especially on his blog farooqkperogi.com. Dr Farooq is a professor, journalist, Nigerian Tribune columnist, author, and blogger based in Greater Atlanta, USA. 

There are few people we look to for insights on political issues and we look at Farooq – a staunch advocate of good governance you will say. His articles are not just opinion pieces, but there is a conscious attempt at ‘reviving’ history and marrying same with what is currently obtainable. No wonder he has won awards for his research work.  

One of his most recent articles, Why Nigeria’s Northcentral States Can’t be Renamed “Middle Belt” centred conversations on Twitter on Nigeria’s geographical segregation in relation to ethnicity.  

Joe Abah 

Dr. Joe is a popular commentator on Twitter, using his platform to provide context on economic decisions, political manoeuvres and cultural context. Other political pundits chose to withdraw to focus on their duties serving the sitting government, Dr Joe continues to engage albeit cautiously, a trait that has earned him the tongue-in-cheek title ‘The Fencist’, in recognition of his refusal to support any side in Nigeria’s often complex political wrangling.  

He has been consistently asked to lean towards one side of the divide, with critics insisting he is only operating infencist’ territory because he does not want to be seen as anti-people or anti-government.  

Before joining DAI in September 2017, Dr. Joe was the Director-General of the Bureau of Public Service Reforms in Nigeria. Under his leadership, he emphasized the need for public service reforms to focus on tangible improvements in the lives of citizens, not just administrative reforms. And he has continued in this trend.  

For every social, political, economic issue in Nigeria, Dr. Joe has an opinion that Twitter users want to listen to. And when he engages users, there is a somewhat objective attempt to trash out the issue.  

Japheth Omojuwa 

There are two sides to all discourse about Japheth. One side insists he is a member of the ruling party (All Progressives Congress, APC) and only condemns government policies and actions when it does not hurt him. The other side regards him as a media personality, public speaker, socio-economic, political commentator and writer.  

The former side stay true to their beliefs because the social media space has a divide of the APC apologists and the PDP apologists – Japheth has been viewed to lean more to the former.  Yet, neither side can decide the outsize influence Japheth wields in several spheres of Nigerian public life.   

Japheth drives conversations with his comments and opinions on political issues and does this effectively with a large following, especially on Twitter. His every tweet is carefully monitored and repurposed by media outlets as bonafide treatises on the prevailing government policy or action that has the citizenry in thrall. Quite popular on social media, and influential in mobilising young people to action, Japheth has proven himself, repeatedly, as a social media expert. And if you want to take his power, you are going to have to do much more than close his Twitter account. 

Chidi Odinkalu 

Every other week, you will definitely see Prof. Chidi speak on one political issue or the other – on TV, radiowherever he is provided a platform. Chidi is a lawyer and advocate and currently chairs the Governing Council of Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission, where he fights human rights violations and policies that negate the dictates of human rights.  

He is widely published on diverse subjects of public policy, political economy affecting African countries, and has been a speaker/adviser on multilateral and bilateral institutions on Africa-related policy. In a country where abuse of political power is rife, and even average citizens act with impunity, having someone as fearless as Chidi champion your cause is priceless. Chidi is also not afraid to err on the side of the victim; a trait that has put him at odds with many other activists in the field.  

He has grown followership on Twitter, through his seemingly objective positions on socio-political issues.  

From his profile, you read, ‘thinker’ and his political commentaries tell you of an informed Nigerian, who is concerned about bad governance 

Cheta Nwanze 

With politics as his prominent subject matterCheta has published numerous articles in Sunday Telegraph, Premium Times, the Cable, and Financial Nigeria, Guardian Nigeria, BusinessDay. His opinion pieces have been published in the Africa Report, Africa Is A Country, Al-Jazeera, The Guardian (UK) and SuperSport (South Africa). 

But Cheta doesn’t just proselytise about the failings of successive Nigerian governments, the duties of the citizenry and the institutions in dire need of dismantling or restructuring, he commits his time to provide the relevant data to help map and analyse the current system and plan the structural changes he proposes through his role as the Head of Research at SBM Intelligence, a platform that provides analysis of the Nigerian socio-political and economic situation through such means as may prove to be expedient for the purpose. 

Cheta has the ear of the people and the numbers to back his claims. Perhaps, it’s time more people in our volatile political landscape listened to someone with data not sentiments.  

Oby Ezekwesili 

It has taken nearly three decades of tireless dedication to process, but today when you say the name Oby Ezekwesili, the first quality that comes to mind is consistency. From demanding a fair and equitable process of procuring contracts whilst she was in BPE, to shrewd management of resources with a focus on fixing the quality of education in the ministry, Dr Oby has always been consistent in due process and people impact. 

The same voice she has used to highlight and bring to the fore the plight of girls that would have been lost and forgotten as Bring Back our Girls, the voice which has held many leaders and presidents accountable, the voice which is never wanting when Nigerians need a powerful ally from the arrested journalist to the thieving senator that needs to be exposed. 

Following her 2019 presidential bid as the only credible female candidate, she was awarded by the Robert Bosch Academy that offers international opinion leaders, decision-makers, and experts a residency for several months in Berlin, in 2020. Oby, in collaboration with the academy, launched the ambitious #FixPolitics initiative which will launch a number of priority platforms including a school of governance, Public policy 101 on TV, amongst others. 

She aims to fix politics by producing a new class of candidates and re-engineer the citizens to an empowered electorate to make better election choices. 

Oby, who has over the years advised presidents on the continent including Paul Kagame and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, might be back again in 2023 or just find the next set of leaders in this new initiative. We are watching 

Ngozi Okonjo Iweala 

Since during the tenure of Olusegun Obasanjo – and before – Okonjo-Iweala has become a household name. She served twice as Nigeria’s Finance Minister and also as Minister of Foreign Affairs – the first female to hold both positions. It is uncommon for ministers who have left office to remain quite relevant in the country’s politics five years after. But, Okonjo-Iweala’s name resounds across continents.  

In 2018, she shook the whole country when she published another book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The story behind the headlines – A frontline account from Nigeria’s former finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, of how to fight corruption and lessons learned for governance and development. 

Since 2019, Okonjo-Iweala has been part of UNESCO’s International Commission on the Futures of Education, chaired by Sahle-Work Zewde. In 2020, the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva appointed her to an external advisory group to provide input on policy challenges. Also, in 2020, she was appointed by the African Union (AU) as special envoy to solicit international support to help the continent deal with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In June 2020, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari nominated Okonjo-Iweala as the country’s candidate to be Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and has been endorsed by the Heads of State and Governments of the 15 Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) member states.

Aisha Yesufu

Aisha has always been adamant about injustice and committed to the service and growth of Nigeria. No event better illustrates this than the time she tried to enroll in the NDA (Nigerian Defence Academy) in 1991 and was rejected because she was a woman. “The most painful part is that I was told that women don’t attend. I was angry and was ranting.” The NDA takes women officers now and Aisha has found other ways to combine her dual passions into tangible change.  

Her bio on Twitter is direct enough to tell you she is ready to keep fighting – ‘you would either love me or hate me and either one is perfectly okay! 

Being on the receiving end of spiteful comments from pro-government forces for her stance on national issues, another Aisha would have retired and focused on her loving family and sizeable personal projects, but she has stayed true to calling for good governance and calling out political leaders every other day.  

She is not a run-off-the-mill activist. Her penchant for naming names has earned her truckloads of enemies, and perhaps, friends.  

What is even more interestingly fortunate is that Aisha married into a Northern family and became part of a culture in a region in Nigeria where women are not, relatively, allowed to add their voices to social or political issues. She has broken that barrier and paves the path for more Muslimahs to join active politics and activism. 

Ndi Kato 

Ndi Kato is a political and human rights activist, politician and former People’s Democratic Party (PDP) aspirant for Kaduna House of Assembly. She had declared her intention to contest for a seat in the Kaduna State House of Assembly in 2018 and has detailed how party politics and the loopholes not addressed by the Not Too Young To Run Bill left her and many other young politicians seeking to contribute their bit to nation-building, exposed to nepotism.

She said in 2019 when she dumped the party, “I wish to state that I do not belong to any political party at the moment and would love to focus on promoting political conversations, pushing for women inclusion and fighting for human rights. 

Known for her active fight for women inclusion in politics in Northern Nigeria, Kato said she would prefer to stay away from politics and committing to any political party. And she has continued to fight for human rights. 

Atiku Abubakar 

Many begin to track former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’s political career from the 1993 general elections. But, more recently from 1999, where, at former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s side, he led Nigerians into a new democratic dispensation. His political ambitions predate 1999, and his outsize influence in Nigerian politics continues to shape how we run elections, the quality of our campaigns and the strength of our opposition.   

Atiku worked in the Nigeria Customs Service for twenty years, rising to become the Deputy Director, as the second-highest position in the Service was then known. He retired in April 1989 and took up full-time business and politics. 

His initial foray into politics was in the early 1980s when he worked behind-the-scenes on the governorship campaign of Bamanga Tukur. Towards the end of his Customs career, he met Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. He won a seat to represent his constituency at the 1989 Constituent Assembly, set up to decide a new constitution for Nigeria.  

Atiku’s first presidential bid was in 1993, but he placed third behind M.K.O. Abiola (late) and Babagana Kingibe in the Social Democratic Party (SDP) primaries. 

In 1998, Abubakar launched a bid for the governorship of Adamawa on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). He won the December 1998 elections, but before he could be sworn in, he accepted a position as the running mate to the PDP‘s presidential candidate, Olusegun Obasanjo. 

Apparently, Atiku has been consistent with wanting to lead and has shown rare desire to do this through most of the 1990s till date. He, every other day, draws conversations through his comments on socio-political issues and has acquired a large following. He is rumoured to still want to contest the 2023 presidential election, and his campaign never stopped in 2019.  

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Nyesom Wike 

There is no one quite like Nyesom in Nigerian politics. No one as fearless, radical and controversial as the strongman of Rivers. Wike has stared down former dictators, challenged the opposition to cross him, quelled protests and personally led patrols during the 2019 COVID-19 lockdown. There is nothing Wike can and will not do if it consolidates his position as governor and assures the safety and comfort of his people.  

Nyesom was appointed Minister of State for Education on July 14, 2011. He was later appointed the Acting Minister of Education, after Ruqayyah Ahmed Rufa’i was sacked, but resigned before finishing his term to run for the office of the Governor of Rivers. He defeated Dakuku Peterside of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Tonye Princewill of the Labour Party to emerge as governor in 2015. 

The governor who was declared winner of the 2019 Rivers governorship polls on Wednesday, April 3, 2019, after the process was suspended for days, has been at the forefront of one controversy to the other and has drawn both ire and appraisal from residents in his state and the rest of Nigerians who now follow his ‘loud’ activities and his political dealings; especially during the 2019 general elections when he hosted the party’s national convention.

He has also been reported to be instrumental in trying to upturn the political ramblings in Edo, where Governor Godwin Obaseki visited him before defecting to the PDP. Nyesom’s political might is no news in Nigeria.

Benedict Ayade 

After Ben made a name for himself – as a highly successful and target-oriented individual – he decided politics was the next step. 

Professor Ben Ayade took the political stage by storm, when in April 2011, under the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), he beat old-time political greenhorns in the Northern Senatorial District of Cross River to become a member of the Senate of the 7th National Assembly of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The icing on the cake was his emergence four years later, as the PDP gubernatorial flag bearer and subsequent winner of the April 2015 governorship poll in Cross River. This major political upset proved bookmakers wrong in many ways. 

Ben is the current Governor of Cross River since May 29, 2015. He ran for the office of Governor in April 2015 on the platform of PDP. Before that, he was a member of the 7th Senate of Nigeria. Senator Benedict Bengiousheye Ayade, a Professor of Microbiology was re-elected as the governor of Cross River in the 2019 gubernatorial elections. 

Like many of his colleagues, Ben is a controversial radical politician who many will say ‘likes to say it as it is’ – a phrase that has also earned him enemies. Even more recently, Ben has consistently insisted that COVID-19 is not real in his state and has stayed efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Talk about fighting the Federal Government. 

Nasir El-Rufai 

Nasir El-Rufai is no stranger to controversy or enemies. During his time as  Minister of the Federal Capital Territory from 2003 to 2007, a time where many important figures in Nigeria’s move to democracy were expecting compensation for their support, El-Rufai implemented his singular vision for the country’s capital, ‘stepping on toes’ and forcing a spoilt Nigerian elite to reckon with the rule of law.  

He presided over a radical transformation of the FCT earlier riddled with corruption and vast deviation from the original masterplan. El-Rufai was also an early adopter, substituting existing city mapping technology for Geographic Information System (GIS), a virtual mapping system that allowed the governor to plan the city in real-time and implement with unnerving accuracy. Under his ambitious leadership, the capital became the first municipality in Nigeria with a computerised land register and information system. 

Along with the then President and members of the Economic Management Team, he led the reform of the Nigerian public service which had become dysfunctional during years of military dictatorship. 

He also chaired several high-profile cabinet committees that led to the establishment of a mortgage system in Nigeria, National ID card system for Nigeria, Electric Power Supply Improvement and the sale of Federal Government real estate in Abuja. 

In 2014, following the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primaries, Nasir emerged as the party’s candidate for Governor of Kaduna. He went on to win the governorship election, defeating the incumbent Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero; the candidate of the PDP. 

Since then, Nasir has, on numerous occasions, being in the news for radical decisions on reforms and a conscious attempt to ensure real change takes place. One of such is the revamping of the educational system in the State. His outspoken nature and citizenry engagement on social media have also earned a large following 

Nasir continues to push agendas as a change-maker and in November 2019, was appointed by the National Economic Council (NEC) as the head of the ad-hoc committee that will review the ownership of electricity companies (DisCos) in the country. This appointment speaks of the admiration and trust put in him by many in government. 

Widely praised for his work in Kaduna, some wonder if governor Nasir, will build on that momentum and run for president in 2023. 

Umar Ganduje 

As with most other governors, Umar is usually at the forefront of several controversies. And this has earned him a spot in people’s hearts – negatively and positively (you can’t have all the enemies in the world).  

However, the governor has also been associated with actual development in the state. One of which is his strict adversity towards children roaming the streets; talk about Almajiri children. To curb this, he announced free education for all, especially for girls in the state.  

Umar has been described as the man of the moment at several occasions for his radical decisions, especially when, in 2019, Umar announced plans to reform the traditional system in the state; this led to the eventual removal of Muhammad Sanusi II (born Sanusi Lamido Sanusi), preceded by outrage across the country and questions thrown at Umar’s office on why he decided to take this path. The protests thereafter did not last a day.  

The two-time governor is usually not concerned with backlash and sprinkly responds to criticisms – he probably just wants to do the job. But he sure does not have too many friends outside Kano.  

Godwin Obaseki 

Since the re-election story started with Godwin, he has hardly had a smooth ride in any of the processes, and the APC primaries turned the open bucket upside down; not just in the State, but on a national level.  

He had ridden on the back of Adams Oshiomhole, who he later fell apart with. The back and forth has been intense and hardly goes unnoticed. And when he sought to be re-elected in the 2020 Edo Gubernatorial elections, he was disqualified by the party’s National Working Committee from contesting the primary elections due to an allegation of  ‘defective credentials’ required. On June 16, 2020, Godwin resigned his membership from the APC. 

In an article by Vanguard, he was tagged the Wake and See Governor. Commentaries fall on the side of those who believe he prefers working and delivering infrastructural projects without prior fanfare or needless rhetoric. And since he assumed office, Godwin has enacted projects including, The Benin River Port Project (Gelegele Seaport), The Benin Industrial Park, Modular Refinery Project, etc, with the aim of making the state an investment hub. 

Godwin is surely not a political baby and so, we wait to see how he runs ahead especially as he has drawn the full attention of the nation. 

Adams Oshiomhole 

Adams ascension as APC Chairman did not sit well with many in the ruling party. He has gained enemies (more recently Godwin Obasekiwithin the ruling party, but we would agree that the Comrade has done his job well.  

His qualities as Union leader never left him even after he became a politician and his ‘activities’ during the re-election of Muhammadu Buhari can confirm this. He has been indeed a stumbling block to antics that attempt to negate his forceful ideas.  

In an instance where other parties keep a quiet speaker until time for elections again, Adams has remained on the pages of newspapers. His demeanour towards party members reaffirms that the blood of activism still runs through his veins.  

He has since been suspended as the National Chairman of the party and the crisis that has created goes on to show how Adams was one of the strongholds of a party that already had issues.  

His story is that of a two-edged sword. One which points to how he rose to power on a national level, putting even governors on their toes; the other, how he has shown how politics can upturn the principles of activism.  

Cephas Dyako 

28-year-old Cephas of the African Democratic Congress (ADC), won the Konshisha Assembly Constituency seat in 2019.  

He is the youngest member of the Benue House of Assembly since the creation of the state in 1976 and is now the Minority Whip. 

His focus has been on education and his constituents might be able to testify to this, especially with the scholarships he has been reported to give, payment of UTME/WAEC fees for students, among others. 

He said, Among the numerous things I will be doing, is to tackle the challenge of land crisis. My ward, in particular, is a case study. I want to as much as possible sponsor a bill that will find a lasting solution to this problem and I believe that it won’t be restricted to my constituency alone but the entire state. I hope that other parts of the country will learn from us when that happens.” 

He is a graduate of the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi and we are here to see how he grows into a more notable politician. 

 Henry Shield  

Henry was the former Special Assistant to a former FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed and Head of Mission (Nigeria), Leadership and Accountability Initiative. He has been seen in several lines of protests calling for good governance and democratising government institutions 

He has a large following on social media and uses his ‘voice’ to speak against injustices, inordinate government policies, societal ills, gaining supporters, who also seek to see democracy taking precedence in government actions. Henry usually comes under heavy criticism but his opinion on political issues matter to his followers, especially on Twitter and is known to be part of the PDP Good Governance Group, who claim to be focused on holding elected officials accountable.  

Henry is a consistent critic of Muhammadu Buhari and would rather the president resign from his seat as the commander in chief.  

 Kabir Tukura 

Kabir – born 1984 – is currently representing the Zuru/Fakai/Danko-Wasagu/Sakaba Federal Constituency of Kebbi. Born in Kaduna, he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate from the Federal Staff Primary School, Sokoto, in 1994, and his Senior School Leaving Certificate from the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri, Kebbi, in 2000. 

As one of the youngest legislators, he was elected as Chairman for the Young Parliamentarian’s Forum (YPF) in October 2019. In his capacity as Chairman for the YPF, he has also expressed his opposition to bills he considered harmful such as the Hate Speech Bill and the Social Media Bill.  

He is a strong advocate for youth involvement and participation in politics. His contributions include sponsoring a bill for the creation of a National Youth Committee and pushing for the constitutional amendment of Sections 171 & 208 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999) as amended, to include the appointment of young people, women and people living with disabilities into governmental offices. 

Gimba Kakanda 

You can’t pin this one to a particular divide of the party system on Twittersphere. Gimba is a fiction writer, poet and journalist from Nigeria, and you can read his works on Aljazeera.  

Interestingly, you cannot also pin him as fencist. Just call him a political commentator who points out ills as they appear. Though, there are times when Gimba has leaned towards one end and received virtual strokes for that.  

Gimba inspires a community of users on social media who seek his opinion on mostly all topical political and social issues. And he delivers appropriately.  

You read geopolitics from his profile and realise that his profile does not come short of the kind of messages he intends to pass on to his over one hundred thousand followers on Twitter. Gimba is not the one to look away from, not especially when you realise that he can influence thousands of people towards one end.  

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 Kayode Ogundamisi 

Even with a large following on Twitter, Kayode’s apparent political leaning has not earned him too many friends. There are times when he is questioned for claims his arguments on certain issues are tribe-inspired.  

Clout. A word you can associate with Kayode when you examine how he drives engagement on certain political issues. No doubt, he has become more neutral in his commentaries, but many still believe he ought to be speaking from Nigeria; not from the Diaspora. “He does not know how it works here”, some say.  

He is on one divide of the political space on Nigerian Twitter and dedicates time to arguments (political fights) in loyal support of his side of the table. It sometimes gets messy and you might wonder how he manages to go home relatively unscathed.  

With five hundred and fifty-six thousand followers and counting, Kayode’s is a platform some other users only wish they had. You might also want to read his story 

Omoyele Sowore 

When Omoyele started the #RevolutionNow protests and was eventually arrested, we all got another hint that Nigeria practises ‘audio democracy’. No wonder Punch Newspapers decided Muhammadu Buhari should still be referred to as a military dictator. One other thing we observed is that Omoyele is not the one to shy away when intimated – he will fight it out.  

Use resilience as the keyword to describe Omoyele who keeps up the energy with a system that aims to oppress any form of opposition. He has been associated with words like ‘treason’ and one begins to wonder how that can be. His aim is to lead out an old political system that hardly animates structural development across board, currently maintained by old people who have been in the system for longer than usual.  

He contested the 2019 Presidential election and you get a hint that he is ready for actual change. 2023 is just around the corner, Omoyele is not quiet, instead has continued to awaken spirits and garner a following of enlightened young Nigerians who say #WeAreDone. He is also been encouraged to run again; let’s see how that plays out.  

Demola Olarewaju 

Demola’s political leanings are not kolanut in a piggybank. Demola Olarewaju is a writer with a background in Nigeria’s political history and party tendencies. He currently works on mobilising young people in Nigeria to participate in the political process. 

He usually attempts to cross-party criticism, but his position on political arguments should not surprise anyone. He is one outspoken political figure who has been seen leading protests across the country.

Armed with raw data on Nigeria’s political history, Demola, more often, shares insights on why a particular contemporary problem turned out to be like that. He has a large following, so watch out for this young political influencer.  

 Esther Ogun-Yusuf 

When media personalities join the train in political conversations, you should be ready for insights that drive national development. And when it is coming from women who are near  ‘absent’ in the political sphere, you realise that the world is, indeed, changing.  

Esther is one of the very few women using the opportunity of a big platform and her influence is spreading faster than you think. There is an apparent consistency with Esther and a desire to deliver quality, always.  

She hosts Channels TV’s ‘Hard Copy’, a 30-minute one-on-one with eminent persons in the politics and policy space.  The idea of hot seat filters into your books when you know Esther will throw hard-hitting questions and allows for responsible conversation without distractions – the same thing she does on Sunrise Daily.  

If we were to argue whether the media helps to demand accountability and question political ills, we will look to Esther and find quality answers.  

Bola Ahmed Tinubu 

It is a long story for Asiwaju. But it starts with him being on both the foreground and background of Nigeria’s politics. He is the godfather, the one who has built a political empire that will span years after his time. But it does not look like it is his time yet.  

Talk of him contesting for the Presidency started before President Buhari was re-elected. But he was on the board of the team that led the offensive against Nigerians who did not want to see Buhari return to Aso Rock.  

When Otoge was launched in Kwara against the Saraki dynasty, people looked to do the same in Lagos against ‘Tinubu’ – you need to realise that name has been a brand for years. But the campaign against the brand did not last one hour.  

Jagaban’s ever-lit influence in Nigeria’s politics is one that should be studied in schools – at least, we have Political Science departments.  

As with the Sarakis, no one likes that one man, one family (when you add his wife who is a serving Senator and his daughter who leads affairs at one of West Africa’s biggest markets) decides how States should be run, even without holding political office 

His calm demeanour will make you think he is not a fighter. His political dealings sell him off in that aspect. Do we even have APC governors who do not look to Tinubu for direction in their States? When there is trouble in any APC-led State, BAT is the godfather to settle the matter.  

2023 is not far away, maybe that’s when the ‘Political Leader of the Yorubas,’ as many describe him, will finally declare his intention to lead Nigeria for the next four years. His national influence may be enough capacity to win or put his rivals on their feet. We wait till then.  

Mahmood Yakubu 

Mahmood does not have too many friends across the country – Not when there are too many times synonymous with his name. He has validated the bias of Nigerians who insist the election body he leads is yet to conduct any free or fair election. The general belief is that Mahmood leads a dependent electoral body.  

In an open letter by a concerned Nigerian to Mahmood, there was a call to publish results of elections conducted so Nigerians, home and abroad, can access the information any time. The letter reads, “But in all these elections; both past, present, and future, something is seriously wrong with all of them. Something very important is seriously missing in all of these elections. 

Professor Mahmood sir, I would like you to tell me why it is usually so difficult for INEC to publish the results of elections on the official INEC website (for instance, the results of the governorship elections of Kogi and Bayelsa, and all other recent bye-elections are yet to be published on the website).” 

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has conducted six general elections since the advent of democracy in the country (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019). At inception in November 2015, the Prof. Mahmood Yakubu-led commission elected to consolidate the gains recorded in 2015 general election and further expand the frontiers. It embarked a number of innovations and planned meticulously for the 2019 general elections. It also took deliberate steps to improve the welfare of the Commission’s staff, but have these changed the public perception of the Mahmood-led electoral body?  

As long as Mahmood remains the chair of the electoral body, Nigerians will continue to look to him to help uphold the dictates of democracy. Of course, most of the arguments against Mahmood is that ‘our candidate’ did not win the election. And, when one side starts an argument against vote results, there is hardly regard for the other side. 

For now, Mahmood is a ‘determiner,’ and there will continue to be eyes on him, pleading that his lines of action stay with the greater good of the country.  

Femi Fálànà 

Femi is a radical Nigerian lawyer and human rights activist. He contested and lost the governorship election of Ekiti in 2007 on the platform of the National Conscience Party, a party he served as National Chairman in 2011. 

He is the father of Falz, a popular Nigerian rapper, singer, online comedian and actor; and husband to Women’s rights activist, Funmi Falana 

Falana has been at the forefront of several protests calling for the government to uphold the rule of law and respect the dictates of democracy. You can’t ask Femi to stay quiet because ‘they will pick you up and you will go missing’. That is like a fire that fuels his activism. He is no stranger to leading campaigns for accountability. And when 2019 presidential candidate, Omoyele Sowore, was detained for starting the #RevolutionNow protests, Femi was the fighter that kept going back until the journalist was released.  

Do you want to imagine the legal sphere in Nigeria without Femi? Tell us what you find out. His analysis of events from a legal view gives effective insights and inspires you to want to start a revolution.  His visible presence in Nigeria’s political space is needed and, we might be looking at him contesting in another election.  

Muhammadu Sanusi II 

Even after his ouster as the revered Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II (born Sanusi Lamido Sanusi) has remained a popular figure on front pages. He was deposed for showing “insubordination” to the authorities in Kano. The governor of the state is believed to be the disrespected one.  Although, the government said he was removed “in order to safeguard the sanctity, culture, tradition, religion and prestige of the Kano emirate“, accusing the emir of “total disrespect” of institutions and the governor’s office. 

With degrees in economics, Islamic law and experience from the Central Bank, Sanusi led reformist campaigns and had been critical of some government policies; a stance that frequently put him at loggerheads with ruling politicians – we will recall how he opposed the re-election of Umar Ganduje 

Sanusi has not been found wanting on lashing out at backward socio-economic issues affecting the North, and Nigeria. He always pushed to rechristen the North, as other parts of the country had ‘interesting’ namefor Northern Nigeria. No wonder he insisted on the educating the girl-child, among other critical reforms.  

Has his political influence waned? You might not want to agree with that. Not when he is still called upon to speak on political issues and is seen in webinars discussing the way forward for the country.  

Yemi Adamolekun 

Yemi is Executive Director of Enough is Enough (EiE) – a coalition of Nigerian youth advocacy groups to promote better governance and political accountability in the country. She campaigns for better governance in Nigeria and is also a Senior Associate in the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

Alongside Israel Aye, Ndidi and Yemi OsinaikeYemi was on a panel that asked political candidates questions in the Lagos Gubernatorial debate before the 2019 Nigerian general election. She then became a spokesperson for the Not in My Church movement, when Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo returned to the Common Wealth of Zion Assembly church a month after stepping down in the wake of underage rape allegations.

In November 2019, she attended a demonstration in support of Omoyele Sowore in Abuja and alleged that members of the State Security Service had attacked her and broken her mobile telephone whilst she was recording two journalists being beaten up. 

She had pledged to attend every court hearing of Omoyele and, in December 2019, Omoyele was released and arrested again the next day, and Yemi was at another demonstration which was attacked by unknown people.  Yemi continues to demand political accountability and with Thursday Talks Lagos, the conversation never stops.

Hamzat Lawal 

Hamzat started his activism while at the University of Abuja when he was responsible for advocating for good student leaders. With Follow The Money” – pan-African grassroots data-driven movement, an initiative of Connected Development (CODE) – Hamzat, alongside Oludotun Babayemi, relays enlightening information that Nigerians would ordinarily not know they have access to.  Follow The Money ‘brings home’ government spending and international aid, in the process, amplifying the voices of marginalised communities in promoting accountability as it affects utilisation of public funds, focusing on specific communities across Africa.   

He has spoken out against corruption, human rights abuse and disfranchisement of community members, and has successfully led grassroots campaigns in over 40 African countries with over nine years’ experience in the non-profit sector. 

He is currently the Chief Executive of Connected Development [CODE] and sits on the Executive Board of the largest Youth Movement in Africa, the African Youth Initiative on Climate Change (AYICC), advising on communications strategies and campaigns using technology tools in shaping and actualising the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

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Ayisha Osori 

Ayisha does not leave the circle of arguments for good governance and her background as a journalist, lawyer and development specialist is enough capacity to change narratives. She is adroit in African development and is recognised for that in many ways.  

A graduate of law from the University of Lagos, Harvard Law School and called to bar in Nigeria and New York, she has consulted for the most reputable multilateral organisations from the World Bank and UNICEF to the Department for International Development and the UNDP.  

Ayisha is a non-executive director on the board of the Nigerian Women’s Trust Fund, a group dedicated to increasing the participation of women in public governance, both elected and appointed offices. She continues to use her voice to fight against political injustices and some of her thoughts appear on online publications.  

She once contested elections, when she cited low representation of women in government, and the necessity to work from the ‘inside’, and we are looking to see her contest again.  

Lai Mohammed 

Not too many Ministers of Information are known to be more politically active than expected, but he has contested for the governorship seat in Kwara, so his politicking is deep enough to be studied. You won’t catch him sitting back and enjoying a train ride that looks to go head-on with the present administration.  

Lai’s demeanour earns him a reputation as a die-hard (call it loyal too) spokesperson for an administration that seems to have fewer friends. He started out, using his communication prowess in the run-up to the 2015 election of President Buhari, shaping publiperception of the Jonathan administration and could not be left to ‘retire’ after that.  

One wonders what his muses are and wherever he gets them, but he has, consistently, thrown back claims of the failure of the present administration, leading the offensive on almost every matter.

Recently, former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar made a statement concerning Nigeria’s debt profile, he must have drawn up a finance-related muse, so he responded appropriately. In simple terms, he threw back the burning coal. His political dealings don’t seem to tolerate direct criticism, looking at how a poet was arrested for criticising him.  

Call him a radical spokesperson, we agree and he will be in our faces up until when President Buhari leaves Aso Rock – maybe beyond.  

Abubakar Malami 

Abubakar was, in June 2020, awardeBest Minister in Nigeria by Face of Democracy Nigeria (FDN) Project, a non-governmental agency in Abuja.

Founder of the FDN Project, Alexandra Olufunso said the choice of Malami for the award of the best Minister of the year was made by Nigerians, who voted him among four Ministers selected out of the 22 Ministers nominated. The award must have been informed by Abubakar’s apparent calculated attempts to stop the P&ID scam that aims to rip the country of $9.6 billion.  

Not forgetting how he has led teams to recover funds claimed to be taken abroad by Late Sani Abacha.  

The Attorney-General has worked in Buhari’s inner circle since 2011 and, indeed, remains one of his most effective ministers. He was re-appointed in 2019, a feat he returned credit to the staff at the Justice Ministry.  

He studied law and took a dive into politics when he sought the APC’s gubernatorial ticket in 2014. He lost but was compensated with a seat on the Federal Executive Council, where he has made his mark on judicial interpretation and ‘quiet’ party politics.  

His name always appears on newspaper headlines as he remains responsive to issues that concern his office. And when Nigerians, again, called for the government to consciously put a stop to the rape culture, the Chief Law Officer of the Federation released a statement saying that special courts will be established for rape incidents.  

 Gbemisola Saraki 

Gbemisola is currently the Minister of State for Transportation appointed by President Buhari on August 21, 2019. She is a former Senator who was elected to represent the Kwara Central Senatorial District in the year 2003 under the platform of the PDPAnd quite naturally, after a successful stint at the National Assembly, Gbemi emerged as Nigerian Best Female Legislator, with the highest number of bills presented and got passed into law by any female in the political history of Nigeria. 

You won’t have realised that the sister to former Senate President, Bukola Saraki is a political force until she joined the movement that stopped the re-election of her brother. But you cannot take her out of a political dynasty from Kwara that has produced national figures. Indeed, she has profited from the name recognition and political infrastructure that comes with the family brand, regardless of the present disagreements.  

In February 2020, she delivered a speech on youth participation and inclusion at the University of Ilorin Post Graduate College and you will want to say that she is motivated to turn progressive ideas into reality.  

Akin Alabi 

Akin first used Twitter to taste the waters to see how sweet it could be. Of course, he must have begun this tasting on the streets. But on Twitter, he first started by offering his ideas on governance and policy. His understudy must have produced reliable results. And in March 2019, he was elected as a member of House of Representatives, Egbeda/Ona Ara Federal Constituency under the platform of the APC. 

Akin obtained his Higher National Diploma at The Polytechnic Ibadan, from where he proceeded to study Marketing at the University of Liverpool, UK. Akin also holds a certificate in Intellectual Property Strategy from Harvard University, Boston, US. 

On Twitter, he has always been a source for ideas on political arguments as well as socio-economic issues, and his legislative record usually filters into Nigerian Twitter. As a legislator, he launched a Women Empowerment Scheme in July 2019. The empowerment programme was a N250 million community outreach project aimed at assisting widows and the poor women in the Egbeda/Ona Ara Constituency. 

Akin has a cloud of goodwill over his head yet and we are watching to see how progresses in his time as a legislative figure.  

 Aliko Dangote 

No doubt, he is Africa’s richest person. So, when he speaks, the political establishment turns its head. The federal government might also not want to make policies that won’t favour the one who creates jobs for thousands of Nigerians and influences Stock numbers.  

If you tried already, you will notice you can’t pin Aliko to a particular political divide, but you know he reaches out when he needs toHe reportedly makes donations to campaigns and political parties during elections and reiterates interest in working with any government that emerges winner. 

Aliko is not the businessman to ignore when national policies are discussed. ‘The powerful businessman who decides without speaking’ is one headline for that article you want to write about him. Recently, the federal government have placed hopes in him for Africa’s biggest refineries – one that might end Nigeria’s troubled waters with importation and exportation of crude oil. 

Aliko is that one invisible man in the room who asks you to follow him without actually telling you. And he doesn’t look like one who will be filtered off our conversations anytime soon.  

Musiliu MC Oluomo Akinsanya  

If Musiliu runs for an elective office in Lagos, he will probably win. The perception about him has, relatively, grown from being just another figure in the transport space to one that everyone categorises as ‘road thug’ to one who has a say in the politics of Lagos.  

For the past year, MC Oluomo’s name has popped up on political issues, with many assuming that he will do better as a State governor if he got to the seat. Indeed, NURTW has become one of the most powerful Unions in Nigeria and Musiliu is the face everyone sees when discussions around the group start.  

Musiliu does not just appear before and during elections, he has continued to drive conversations, and these days, he seems to be more interested in socio-political issues than one would expect. There was a growing concern as to how the Union can help in the fight against COVID-19, and as Chairman of the Union, Lagos chapter, MC Oluomo was ready to outline plans to join in the fight against the coronavirus disease.  

Say it, yes say it that you will like to see what else Musiliu has to offer to the state, not as a leader with NURTW but as an actual political leader. His transformation and public perception of him has grown from extremely dangerous to dangerously influential.  

Watch this one in 2023.  

Jimi Disu 

Jimi is another evidence that you can drive political conversations from anywhere. He is a radio host and blogger, starting his journalism career in the Daily Times in 1975. His resume is quite rich and spans media work as assistant editor of the PUNCH, Business Editor of the Vanguard newspapersamong numerous others.  

He has gained prominence as Lagos’ top host and on-air political opinion shaper especially with “The Discourse” on Classic FM 97.3. He is regularly present in topical issues, sets agenda, and outlines ideas to help the public navigate through the discussion.  

If you did a survey of radio hosts who focus on political issues, you will understand that Jimi is one of the very few – maybe because he has prior experience in journalism, got from some part of the military era.   

He says, “I believe I am a clear-headed, well-rounded journalist who wants to contribute to making our society a better place to live in. I have been in this struggle for long and I know that even if it doesn’t happen in my lifetime, Nigeria will be a great country again.” 

Kayode Fayemi 

Kayode has ‘travelled’ a lot in the last 15 years. After three and a half years fighting through the legal system, the Appeal Court sitting in Kwara on October 15, 2010, declared Fayemi the duly elected Governor of Ekiti, marking the end of Olusegun Oni‘s administration as then Governor of the state. He was defeated in 2014, but his second coming happened in 2018 when he resigned as the Minister of Solid Minerals to win the governorship election.  

Kayode is a founding member of the APC and has been instrumental in preserving the interests of the party, even now that he is the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), founded in 1999 to enhance collaboration among the executive governors of Nigeria, and protect their interests.  

He holds degrees in History and International Relations from the University of Lagos and Obafemi Awolowo University respectively; a Doctorate in War Studies from Kings College, University of London and he is a Fellow of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibadan. His research and policy development interests include Democratisation, Constitutionalism, Security Sector Governance, Civil-Military Relations and Regionalism in the Global Context.

Amongst other academic and public policy engagements at home and abroad, Kayode has lectured in Africa, Europe, the Americas and Asia. He has also served as an adviser on Transitional Justice, Regional Integration, Constitutionalism, Security Sector Reforms and Civil-Military Relations to various governments, multilateral institutions and development agencies. 

His time as the Chairman of the NGF has seen visible changes in the manner issues are handled and his closeness to the president makes it even easier for seamless collaboration between the regional and national levels of government. With the 2023 chessboard subtly unveiled, the 55-year-old remains a major force to watch out for as developments unfold.

Yemi Osinbajo 

One of his many nicknames is Star Boy. A name given to him by Twittersphere for many reasons, including his ability to maintain a calm demeanour and tackle issues appropriately. Professor Yemi just wants to do the job, and even with political distractions, he continues to tow the path of responsible hard work.  

Professor Yemi, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and Professor of Law until his inauguration as Vice President, has somewhat presented himself as a politician on the side of the people. And, in October 2019, Osinbajo criticised the government’s proposed social media regulations, stating he did “not think that government regulation is necessarily the way to go.”  

Instead, he asked citizens to take more active steps to police social media. He stated that citizens and leaders, both political and religious, “owe a responsibility to our society and to everyone else, to ensure that we don’t allow it to become an instrument” of war. He also warned people against using social media to spread “religious disinformation”, which could lead to conflict and war. 

During a visit on November 3, 2019, to Daura, the Emir of Daura, Faruk Umar, called Osinbajo “the most trustworthy Vice President of Nigeria” and thanked him for his loyalty to President Buhari’s administration. The Emir gave him the title of Danmadamin Daura, the highest traditional title in the emirate. 

He is positioned to garner enough votes if he decides to contest for the presidency in 2023, but will he?  

Charles Omole 

Dr Charles is a Lawyer, Security consultant, Trainer and Strategist to businesses and governments across Europe, Middle East and Africa. Also, a Constitutional Law scholar, he brings together an excellent academic and research pedigree and practical industry experience in a compelling proposition. He is a global expert in Law Enforcement Jurisprudence and Organisational Transformation. 

A first-class strategist and trainer; Charles is a world-renown expert in matters relating to Good Governance in National Security operations, Security Sector Reform, Excellence in Policing, and Leadership Development.  

He is a bestselling author of over forty books on policing, politics, law, national security, leadership and faith matters. Charles is a foremost expert on police and security operations in Nigeria and a world-class consultant on Security Sector Reforms to many top national governments and adviser to several international corporations. 

Abike Dabiri 

Abike is fondly called ‘Madam Diaspora.’ Why not? Using the frames of pictures from abroad, Abike does the job well in putting the president’s image under white light; and she is not even on the President’s media team.  

She is revered for her effective communications skills, her conscious attempts to ensure the country’s interests are well articulated and has often weighed in on matters involving Nigerians in the Diaspora even before the Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes up its mind on an official statement.  

Abike is a Nigerian journalist, politician and former member of the Nigeria House of Representatives representing Ikorodu Federal Constituency in Lagos. While still serving in the National Assembly, she was the Chairman of the House Committee on Media & Publicity. In November 2018, she was appointed Chairman/CEO of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission and has done the job to such an extent that her profile that leans towards pro-democracy dispositions.  

She is also a known advocate for disadvantaged girls and women.  

Agboola Ibrahim Gambari 

You can’t say Agboola is new in the political space – you might have to retrace your steps if you think that. He is a Nigerian academic and diplomat currently serving as Chief of Staff to President Buhari. 

Agboola served as the Minister for External Affairs between 1984 and 1985 under General Buhari‘s military regime, shortly after his stint as Director-General of The Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA). From 1990 to 1999, he holds the record of being the longest-serving Nigerian Ambassador to the United Nations, serving under five Heads of State and Presidents. 

On March 4, 2013, Agboola Gambari was named by then Governor of Kwara, Abdulfatah Ahmad, as the pioneer Chancellor of the Kwara State University.  

Following the former Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari demise, there was talk of Buhari appointing one of his cousins, and names came up from the ‘radar,’ but when Agboola was named new Chief of Staff, it made Nigerians realise that no one really retires from politics.  

You have to watch out for this one, knowing how powerful the office of a Chief of Staff can be.  

Boss Mustapha 

After the demise of former Chief of Staff to President Buhari, there was talk that Boss had assumed the role of ‘biggest guy on the block.’  And when he was appointed Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, it seemed to validate what many were thinking. But Boss is not the kind of politician who responds to ‘distractions,’ notwithstanding where it is coming from.  

His law practice and the burning desire to serve the larger society conspired to attract him into politics. At various times, he was member Federal Republic of Nigeria Constituent Assembly (1988-1989), Chairman People’s Solidarity Party-Gongola State (1989-1990), state chairman, Social Democratic Party-Gongola State (1990-1991); he was even a gubernatorial candidate for SDP in Adamawa state in 1991. He was the Deputy National Chairman of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria from 2010 to 2013. 

He is a Nigerian lawyer, businessman, management consultant, politician, and current Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF). He was previously Managing Director, Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority until his appointment as SGF by President Muhammad Buhari on 30 October 2017. 

Boss’ accomplishments go beyond politics and the Bar; he is a respected boardroom guru, having been appointed into the boards of several companies in the manufacturing financial services as well as oil and gas sectors.  

He doesn’t talk much, and if he decides to run for a top political office in 2023, we should not be surprised. As already mentioned, Boss will rather play his politics quietly and do the job.  

 Bukunyi Olateru Olagbegi 

Bukunyi is a Nigerian entrepreneur, politician and member of the royal Olagbegi family in Owo, Ondo. He is the Founder and current Chairman of the Modern Democratic Party (MDP)In 2018, Bukunyi’s contribution to Nigerian politics was a feature of a Forbes Africa magazine article on the 2019 Nigerian elections, which credited him as one of Nigeria’s young leading political figures, and in 2019 he was listed among the 100 Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) under the United Nations. 

In November 2018, MDP unveiled singer and Actor, Banky W as its candidate to contest the 2019 Federal House of Representatives elections, representing Eti-Osa Constituency. 

The party is reported to have 65,000 members and fielded two legislative candidates in the 2019 General Elections in Nigeria. 

His party has joined the resistance, trying to pull down the narrative that only APC and PDP candidates can win elections. And he started on a good note. It is not sure if Banky W will contest under his party in 2023 (if he contests at all), but, rest assured, Bukunyi will not stop while he tries to change the status quo.  

Debo Ogundoyin 

The narrative of the Not Too Young To Lead is taking effect in Nigeria. No doubt, we are yet to scratch the surface, but there is a head start already.  

Debo is evidence that young people can take the reins from the box and lead the horse to the top of the mountain. When news filtered that a young person had become the Speaker of the Oyo Assembly, everyone wanted to know how young and relate with the young Speaker too. The news seemed to have opened new doors for other young people who sat back thinking ‘such things do not happen around here.’

The 33-year-old is a graduate of Babcock University’s and is believed to have been favoured by a combination of factors such as his party affiliation, zoning consideration and experience being one of the four returning lawmakers to the Ninth Assembly on the platform of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP). 

But, life comes with challenges and just as the nation began battling COVID-19, so did some caucuses in the Assembly begin to scheme against the leadership of the state legislature for alleged lack of transparency in running affairs of the Assembly and indecisiveness in canvassing for the general desires of lawmakers from the state governor, Seyi Makinde. 

Young Debo is an inspiration and we can only support him as reports say he is delivering on his promises.  

Nasiru Magarya 

31-year-old Nasiru said in 2019 that he joined politics to help young people – a statement that falls in line with the ‘young leaders’ notion. I joined politics in order to assist my fellow youths, particularly those who are unemployed and out of school. I understand that more than 60 per cent of our youths is redundant, and that is very disheartening. With my current position, I think I can do something to help the teeming unemployed youth in my state. Another reason is to contribute my quota towards the political development of my state, and nation in general. I want to set a good record worthy of emulation by the youth in the country in particular, and the world in general,” he said.  

When he was elected in 2019, Nasiru, who represents Zumi West Constituency, was elected unopposed as Speaker of the Zamfa House of Assembly by the 24 members of the assembly. 

Nasiru is, indeed, in the category of Nigerians who are paving way for other young people to play an active part in the country’s politics. After all, we can’t continue to have older people leading the way.  

 

Gudaji Kazaure 

Gudaji is an outspoken member of the Nigerian House of Representatives representing the Kazaure/Roni/Gwiwa/Yankwashi Constituency of Jigawa and is quick to give advice like the end to estimated billing by power companies, the policy implementation of CBN’s cashless policy, and the call to retire the Service Chiefs and withdraw all the soldiers and send fresh troops, among others.  

When you say he is ever ready to fight for the majority of the masses, who make up the poor, then you are on the fight path. In the House, Gudaji’s colleagues know that he won’t sit and enjoy the ride while policies are being made against poor people.  

There is nothing but hope that his voice will not faint at some point.  

Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV 

Count the Sultan of Sokoto as one of the most influential traditional leaders in Nigeria. As the leader of Jama’atu Nasril Islam and President-General of the National Supreme Council on Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), he effectively represents a lodestar of Islamic intellectual and political thought in the country. 

He has been consistent with calling for national unity and making Nigerians understand that there are more peaceful Muslims than terrorist; where he also relays his strong resistance to extremism that leads to violence. No wonder in August 2019, the Sultan was appointed as Co-Moderator of the Council of Religion for Peace (CRP) 

Now in his thirteenth year as Sultan since replacing his brother Muhammadu Maccido, the Islamic leader’s political leanings are apparently non-sided as he does not fail to call out political ills and proffers solutions to whatever trendy issues that bedevil the state and the country.  

 Poju Oyemade 

A pastor in the mix? No doubt.  

Pastor Poju has been able to draw the expectations of Nigerians to ‘The Platform,’ an annual political event that takes place in the Iganmu branch of his Covenant Christian Centre, founded in 1994.  

Since its “Nigeria at 50” symposium in October 2010, idealistic figures like Bishop Mathew Kukah, Prof Pat Utomi, Peter Obi, Yemi Osinbajo, Oby Ezekwesili come on board in discussion around politics and policy; ultimately, national development.  

Poju has taken advantage of the media ecosystem and consciously poses himself as one quite relatable to millennials as he asks this demography – frustrated by current political happenings – to join him as he relays his opinions as a social commentator.  

Poju is poised to continue adding his voice to change narratives and further the course of political transformation.  

 Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed 

Born June 16, 1960, Zainab appears to have divinely been made for the job, and has shown zeal to fix Nigeria’s economy. Having taken a periscopic view of the economy, knowing from the beginning that it was going to be a promise to strictly keep the workouts and to ensure that the process does not only move on but yields the expected result.

Upon the resignation of erstwhile Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun on September 14, 2018, Zainab Ahmed was appointed as Finance Minister in September 2018 from her position as Minister of State for Budget and National Planning and was reappointed Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning on August 21, 2019, as President Buhari brought the two ministries under her as one, making her the de facto Minister of Economy. 

An accountant with a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting from ABU Zaria and a Masters in Business Administration (MBA), Zainab, in her biography, says she has “extensive knowledge and diverse experience in public sector reform and management. 

She has served the Nigerian public in various high-ranking positions, including as managing director of the Kaduna State of Nigeria’s investment company, and also the Chief Finance Officer of the Nigerian Mobile Telecommunications Company. 

Tolu Ogunlesi 

Tolu is a journalist, poet, photographer, fiction writer, and blogger. He was appointed to the role of Special Assistant on Digital/New Media by President Buhari on February 18, 2016. And since then, he has continued to attract friends as much as those on the side who think the President should resign.  

Describe him as a loyal employee who would do everything to ensure his boss is not painted in a negative light. Also, call him the ‘blocker in chief’ – something he does to keep out all the anti-Buhari strikers from his comment section. But Twitter users do not only attack the President. They also direct their thoughts and comments towards him who they think should – as a journalist on sabbatical – be ‘on the side of the people’ and relay the ‘truth’ at all times.  

But ‘truth’ is relative and while Tolu usually uses facts and figures to argue his claim, there are sides who also use counter facts and figures to negate his argument. But one thing he is not used to doing is to continue an argument for too long.  He also heads the Presidency Office of Digital Engagement (PODE). 

Femi Adesina 

Just like Tolu Ogunlesi, Femi Adesina is one of the image-makers of the Buhari administration. This is why you will see him on Television ‘answering’ questions on politics, policy, governance; and explaining the actions of the government in any situation.  

Femi started his career in journalism as a writer for Radio Lagos, he later worked at Vanguard Newspapers and National Concord Newspapers before joining The Sun Newspaper, where he rose to Editor-in-Chief. He also served a two-year term as president of the Nigerian Guild of Editors. Although re-elected for a second term as Guild president, Femi stepped down after receiving his government appointment. He also stepped down as Editor-in-Chief of The Sun shortly before he was sworn-in as Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to President Buhari on August 31, 2015. 

The experienced journalist is not the one to back down on telling Nigerians that the current administration has made more progress than any other administration since 1999. And when Nigerians ask the administration to stop comparing to long and gone administrations, he says, to assess a government, you have to benchmark it with what it met on ground.” But you should not be surprised, he is doing his job.  

More reason, he will insist that Islamic sect, Boko Haram has been technically defeated and security has greatly improved across the country, notwithstanding the increase in the number of people who die every other day, among other insecurity issues. The insurgency is not where it used to be. What they (insurgents) now do is attack and run,” he says.  

Femi is currently serving as the Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to President Buhari. And once replied, when he was asked why the current situation is more abysmal than ever, he says, “it is not abysmal. It depends on what you want to see. 

Nnamdi Kanu 

How do you talk of Nigerian politics without mentioning an individual who keeps the government on its toes? – the one who continues to garner fans and lovers home and abroad. Indeed, his theories continue to divide Nigerians along two lines; the one who agree that he is on the right track and the ones who insist on united Nigeria.  

Nnamdi, a political activist leads the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) – a body pushing for an independent state for the people of old Eastern Region of Nigeria through a referendum. He is the director of a UK registered radio station named Radio Biafra, from where, in recent times, he addresses supporters of the Biafra agenda and Nigerians in general.  

Prior to the 2019 presidential election, IPOB had threatened to boycott the election. According to the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi, “It [the boycott] is a multi-faceted approach. It is civil disobedience, passive resistance, it is an expression of our resentment of Nigeria and what it represents“.  

The IPOB leader has been consistent with stirring arguments which furthers his agenda to force the government to do a referendum and is still wanted by the Nigerian authorities over alleged treason. Asides that, he leads the unending quest for a sovereign state of Biafra.  

 Rauf Aregbesola 

Ogbeni Rauf is the current Minister of the Federal Ministry of Interior of Nigeria. Before that, he was the fourth civilian governor of Osun.  

He has always received media attention for his approaches toward human capital development, education, and infrastructure, which have often landed him in the centre of public discussion.  

When he was appointed as Minister of Interior, Rauf described his appointment as a call to greater service and a challenge to exhibit and deploy his skill for solving difficult tasks to the nation’s benefit. 

But there are questions hanging around as to how the Minister continues to discharge his duties accordingly and his attitude towards issues that concern his office. Besides that, he has been in the news for his row with APC leader, Bola Tinubu. Reports both Rauf and Bola denied.  

Yet, the reported rift was a pointer that Ogbeni might be thinking of running for the presidency in 2023. We wait to see how that plays out.  

Before that becomes a reality or not, when Ogbeni Rauf was asked on ‘judgement day’ to highlight his achievements (Ministerial Performance Report), he got out of the meeting with satisfaction on the faces of the ‘judges’ who asked him to continue his good works.  

Femi Gbajabiamila 

You cannot talk about Nigeria’s legislative history and not add Femi to the discussion. Not because he is Speaker, House of Representatives, his reputation for delivering sound arguments in and out of his office as the Speaker. His rise to the position hardly surprised anyone.  

Having been a Member of the House since 2003, he took an active part in debates on the floor of the House and was fast recognised as one of the brilliant minds in the National Assembly both as Minority and Majority Leader.  

Amongst his Bills and Motions in the House, Femi has been very passionate about the Employee Rights Bill, Local content in Construction Industry Bill, Vocational Schools Bill, The Economic Stimulus Bill, Interest-Free Students Loan and Establishment of Nigeria Education Bank Bill etc. He fought tirelessly on the floor of the House through motions to compel the National Assembly to recognise the newly created local governments in Lagos. 

His notable political career has provided him a platform with which he has advocated numerous causes close to his heart that he strongly believes will uplift Nigerians and the country as a whole. He has shown himself a loyal party member (and has been referred to as ‘Tinubu’s hand in the House) and is reported to have established various programs in his constituency to improve the lives of his primary constituents; many of who regard him as a true and worthy leader.  

 Chioma Agwuegbo 

Chioma is Reboot’s Program Manager for the West Africa office, leading projects that bring together media, civil society, communities, and government to advance social justice.  

She is passionate about governance, having worked with a team to remotely monitor the 2011 and 2015 Nigerian national elections using software to track progress and incidences of violence. 

Chioma is a writer as well as political and social commentator whose work appears in Foresight for Development, Huffington Post, Premium Times, amongst others. She is also an associate member of the Nigerian Leadership Initiative (NLI), the Royal Commonwealth Society (RSA), and the Deputy Curator of the Abuja Global Shapers Hub. 

And yes, she handles Communications for the Not Too Young To Run promoters – dedicated to sensitising young Nigerians on the need to play an active part in the country’s politics.  

 Folashade Yemi-Esan 

Folashade is a civil servant and the current Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, appointed on March 4, 2020. 

She started her career at the Federal Ministry of Health before she was promoted to the position of Director. During her time in the health ministry, she served as liaison officer West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), Coordinator of Oral health in Schools programme and Director of Health Planning Research and Statistics. 

In 2012, she was promoted to the position of Federal Permanent Secretary, serving as the Permanent Secretary of Service Policy and Strategy Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Federal Ministry of Education and Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources. 

On September 18, 2019, she was appointed as the Acting Head of Civil Service, replacing the suspended Winifred Ekanem Oyo-Ita. 

 Geoffrey Onyeama 

Geoffrey is Nigeria’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, appointed in November 2015 by President Buhari. 

Onyeama began his career as a Research Officer in the Nigerian Law Reform Commission Lagos from 1983 to 1984. He then worked as a lawyer with Mogboh and Associates in Enugu, from 1984 to 1985. In 1985, he joined the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) as an Assistant Programme Officer for Development Cooperation and External Relations, Bureau for Africa and Western Asia. He rose through the ranks at the WIPO to become Deputy Director-General for the Development Sector in 2009. In November 2015, he was appointed Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs by President Muhammadu Buhari. 

Like Abike Dabiri, Geoffrey displays the strong will to stir the country’s foreign affairs effectively well – the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the attacks against black people in China and the more recent directed attacks at Nigerians, among other diplomatic issues. We continue to watch his space.  

 Tolulope Akande-Sadipe 

Tolu Sadipe is a 1987 Bachelor of Science-Accounting graduate of the American University, Washington D.C., USA. Upon acquiring her Bachelor’s degree, she joined Enterprises for New Direction, a communication processing company for the U.S. President on Department of Transportation matters, as an Accountant. 

Tolu is a core progressive with an impeccable pedigree, whose participation in the progressive movement dates back to 1997. She was part of the movement that stood up for the soul of Nigeria’s democracy during the military junta, a period that saw Tolu assisting in the struggle, working with the late Sage, Pa Anthony Enahoro, through the World Congress for Free Nigeria office in Washington D.C. USA. 

She proved to be a great change agent in the administration of former governor Abiola Ajimobi, by initiating, midwifing or collaborating on many developmental projects, with a direct economic impact on the general Oyo population. 

Honourable Tolu is a member of the House of Representatives and is Chairman, House of Representatives’ Committee on Diaspora. As a member of the House, she has pushed for good governance and the need to stop enacting laws that benefit only a selected few – one of such being the call to stop the proposed social media bill.  

Khadija Bukar Abba-Ibrahim  

Born January 6, 1967, Khadija is a politician and was a Member of the House of Representatives for Damaturu/Gujba/Gulani/Tarmuwa in Yobe, before her appointment as Minister of State for Foreign Affairs in 2016.

On January 9, 2019, Khadija announced her resignation from the federal cabinet to focus on her campaign for Federal House of Representatives seat for her Constituency which she won, defeating her step-son.

She is indeed someone to be reckoned with, especially with her experience and her drive to change the status quo.  

Bankole Wellington 

With a now constant call for ‘fresh air’ in Nigeria’s political space and the reality of the Not Too Young To Run BillBanky W ran for a House of Representatives seat in 2019. It came as a surprise to many, but it was a time when Nigerians were given the opportunity to choose between an experienced politician and one who showed actual desire to change perceptions.  

Bankole has played an active part in pro-governance advocacy campaigns before declaring his intention to run – inspired by his desire for actual social change, one community at a time. He set precedence when he decided not to run on either of the platforms of the major political parties, making people understand that change can come from any political divide.  

Even after he lost his election, Bankole has remained active in the call for political transformation and the ultimate call for national development. He already has a loyal following, who only need to understand their ‘guy’ is now interested in leading from the inside. His eye is set on 2023 and we will wait. 

  Ajuri Ngelale 

Ajuri’s face on TV, his voice on radio and his posts via social media point to one thing – he won’t quit edifying the general public on government policies and how they work for progressive development. Ajuri studied Political science at the University of Kansas and holds a degree in History – qualifications somewhat fit to qualify to work with the President.  

He filled in as Lead Consultant, Public Affairs at the Federal Ministry of Power until 2016 preceding his arrangement as Special Assistant to President Buhari on Public Affairs in 2919.  

Ajuri’s devotion to ‘explainers’ – every other day – makes him the go-to voice for issues identifying with open approach. As an experienced journalist who worked with African Independent Television (AIT) and later, Channels Television before his appointment. You might want to consider arming yourself with ‘facts and figures’ before you get into an argument with him.  

 Kola Ologbondiyan 

Call Kola the ‘voice of the opposition in Nigeria;’ rightly so. He is the one to start debates with his speedy reactions and public statements on socio-political matters as it concerns governance and policies.  

Until 2015, he was the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to former Senate President, Senator David A. B. Mark before his election as National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), at its 2017 National Convention of the Party.

Ologbondiyan continues to his journalistic experience to oppose anti-people policies and failings of the Buhari administration especially in the area of security.  

 Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi 

It may be difficult to hold a conversation about the 51st Ooni of Ife without referring to the events that greeted his ascendance to the throne. But what is more worthy of conversation is how the relatively young traditional ruler continues to travel around the country reaffirming his throne as the most prominent office in Yorubaland  – and in the process, preserving the socio-cultural heritage of the Yorubas.  

Ooni is one that presents himself as relatable to the country’s young demography and is, therefore a public figure to reckon with. The 45-year-old promotes the ideas of cross-cultural unity for political stability and asks young Nigerians to join hands for national unity.  

Adeyeye almost regularly makes contributions on socio-political issues and attempts a solution at problems that plague the country. In 2020, the traditional ruler announced a herbal cure for the coronavirus disease, leaving Nigerians divided on the question of whether the government should accept the cure or not.  

He has also presented himself as an all-round religious enthusiast – where you see him relating effectively well with all sides of the religious divide. The end goal being able to draw people from all divides to his side and continue to exert influence where the need arises.  

 Isa Ali Pantami 

Isa – also known as Sheikh Pantami – is the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy in Nigeria. He was the Director-General and CEO of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) of Nigeria before his appointment into the Federal cabinet

He initiated the Nigerian national public key infrastructure (PKI) programme and went into a security partnership with ESET, an IT security company that offers anti-virus and firewall products. Pantami is a major inspiration for young people, especially of Nothern origin and continues to engage them using the tool of social media.

In February 2020, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau in a nine-minute video announced that he had instructed his men to target and kill Pantami for introducing a policy that seeks to block SIM cards in order to frustrate terrorists’ activities; a follow up to the fact that Pantami might be influencing actual change in several spheres.  

 Ahmed Lawan 

When Dr Ahmed was gunning for the President of the Senate, many Nigerians talked of a workable synergy between the Executive and the Red Chamber. The discussion on his emergence fixated on the fact that the Executive should no longer complain of delayed passage of bills and approvals for government spending and p0licies – after all, the President is in the same party with him.  

Ahmed ran for the Senate Presidency in 2015 in accordance with APC’s zoning policies but Bukola Saraki disagreed with the arrangement and ran against him. Although Ahmed eventually became Majority Leader of the Senate, the dynamics played out in his favour and won re-election to the Senate for the 4th time in 2019, he finally got the exalted seat.  

Since becoming the Senate President, Ahmed has asserted the contention of Nigerians who anticipated that the second term of the Buhari administration will run seamlessly, considering Ahmed’s supposed loyalty to his party, the president and the passage of bills that will empower dynamic development across board in Nigeria. 

Ganiyu Adams 

Gani was the leader of a faction of the Oodua People’s Congress (OPC), a nationalist organisation based in South West Nigeria, which supports the call for an autonomous state for the Yoruba people – formed in 1994 as a socio-cultural group to promote Yoruba people and culture.  

Although Gani was not a founding member of the OPC, he was appointed the National Coordinator of the Oodua People’s Congress and rose to nationwide popularity after Inspector General of Police Musiliu Smith declared him wanted in 2000 with a financial reward of N100,000 for his group’s involvement in violent clashes. 

He was arrested on August 22, 2001, but was later released after being held in prisons in Lagos, Abeokuta and Abuja. 

On October 14, 2017, Adams was installed as the 15th Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland by Oba Adeyemi III, the Alaafin of Oyo. The title was last held by late Democracy Icon, Moshood Abiola before his death in 1998. 

Aare Gani Adams attended the 2019 edition of Elegbara festival as his usual tradition where he delivered a speech on the regional integration of South-West Nigeria.  

Ebere Ifendu 

Ebere is a Lawyer, Chartered Mediator and Conciliator and Gender Advocate. She is also the Director at Centre for Gender Education and Rights, Gregory University, Uturu, Abia.

She’s served as a member of the Presidential Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee and also became the first woman to be elected to the position of National Publicity Secretary for the Labour Party in Nigeria, having previously held the position of National Women Leader of the party.

Currently President of Women in Politics Forum (WIPF), a multi-party organisation of Women in Politics who are members of Parliament, Women Executive office holders, Women in Civil Society and other organisations that engage and develop strategies to achieve the mission of WIPF. 

A member of the African Women Leadership Network (AWLN) and Special Assistant to the Senate Minority Leader on Diaspora, Gender and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), her dream for Nigerian and indeed African Women, in general, is to see that they are appreciated and given their rightful place as strong, intelligent and hard-working women, who have been key players in nation-building. 

Tanko Muhammad 

The Supreme Court has become quite busy since democracy became a real discussion in Nigeria. No election cycle has passed since 1999 that the apex Court did not play the role of  ‘decider’ in the fate of many top political offices, especially in the last one year.

As the face of the Nigerian Judiciary, Tanko became incumbent Chief Justice of Nigeria on July 24, 2019, and on the assumption of office automatically became the sage that many picture in mind when unending battles between warring political sides get to the court.

The journey with Tanko continues.  

Aisha Buhari 

President Muhammadu Buhari’s statement – “My wife remains in the other room” – is not one you will want to associate with the outspoken First Lady.  

If you used the word, defiant, to describe how she has gone against all patriarchal tendencies of Muhammadu, you won’t be wrong.  

Over the past year, her picture and words have appeared more often on our tables than we can remember. From her scuffle with members of her husband’s family in Aso Rock, her constant reminder of the issues in the Villa, to how she speaks on socio-political issues, you can’t send Aisha to the background.  

The powers in Aso Rock surely place her in high regard for her defiance to the ‘women should not be heard’ dogma, and when she speaks, the whole country waits to listen; with many claiming “that’s the truth from the wife of the President!”

No doubt, Aisha has reshaped the perception of the citizenry towards the inner workings and continues to uphold the validation bias many Nigerians claim not to have. On another side, the supposed anti-corruption campaigner is widely said to be active only when she senses trouble coming to her.  

Amid her consistent commentary on her husband’s administration, she remains his firm supporter and you would have noticed her hard work during the 2019 general elections. Who knows? She probably aims to stay politically relevant even beyond her Muhammadu’s time as president.  

 Pauline Tallen 

Pauline’s political career started in 1976, when she was the Clerical Officer at Shendam Local Government Council of Plateau State, and later Ministry of Local Government Affairs. By 1994, she became a councillor in Plateau and was subsequently appointed Commissioner in the State Military Government between 1994 and 1999.

In 1999, she was appointed Minister of State for Science and Technology, becoming the first woman to be appointed as a Minister in that capacity by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo. She was later elected as Deputy Governor of the state before she joined the Labour Party in 2011, to contest the gubernatorial election which she lost.

Just before the 2015 general elections, she decamped from the PDP to APC, a move she believed angered some people in her state. However, she described the move as a calling from God, with no regrets and in 2015, rejected an ambassadorial nomination by President Buhari, citing federal character and zoning in her state as reasons.

In an interview with Leadership Newspaper, she explained that as deputy governor she contested against the governor for the betterment of the state and because the governor didn’t have the interest of the people at heart. She also stated that the victory of President Buhari at the 2015 general elections was divinely orchestrated. She is currently serving as Women Affairs Minister. 

Rahmat Abisola Abdullahi 

Honourable Rahmat started her early education at St. Jude Primary School, Ilasamaja, Lagos from 1987- 1992 before proceeding to St. Michael Model College, Egbeda Lagos from 1992 to 1999. She attended the University of Ilorin between 1999 and 2004 where she bagged a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting. She later proceeded to the University of Abuja for a post-graduate diploma. 

Rahmat is a grassroots politician and has held several positions in the past which includes; Senior Special Assistant on Tenement Rate and Monitoring in the Abuja Municipal Area Council. She was also a former Supervisory Councillor for Education, Sports and Social Development of the Council and is currently the Council Secretary for Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC). 

 Nkiru Onyejeocha 

In 2019, Onyejocha ran for the office of Speaker of the 9th House of Representatives after winning a return ticket to the house for a fourth term.  She was the only female candidate in the race, supported by civil society groups who clamoured for the reality of a female Speaker in the House of Representatives.  

Onyejocha’s major campaign issues in the speakership race were tied to two points. First, was for a South-Eastern representative to occupy the Speakership position against the South-west it was zoned to by the party leadership. The South-East – a key component of the Nigeria federation did not occupy any of the high five political offices.

The second point of her campaign was “to improve the legislative framework for inclusive growth and social justice in Nigeria, especially for a marginalised group like poor women and the youth, who have been clamouring for more participation in the Nigerian economy and the state of affairs in recent times. 

In the heat of the campaign, Onyejeocha repeatedly called on Femi Gbajabiamila, favoured to take the speakership position by their party, to back out of the race and support her campaign. But Onyejocha instead stepped down less than 24 hours to the inauguration and election of the speaker of the house. Her resignation from the race was to allow the interest of the party to supersede and prevail over individual interests. Onyejocha represents the people of Isuikwato/Umunneochi Federal Constituency, Abia in the House of Representatives.

 Uche Ekwunife 

Uche stood for election twice unsuccessfully. She was elected as a representative in 2007 for Anambra’s Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency and was one of the 11 women elected in 2007 and re-elected in 2011 when the lower house was nearly 95% male.  

In 2015, she was one of the six women elected to the 8th Senate. Ekwunife had won the 2015 election by switching from one political party to the other. Her election was challenged and in December 2015 her seat was declared vacant by Chief Victor Umeh. Ekwunife was unable to get her former political party to back her for the bye-election which she lost but was successfully elected in 2019.

Having run in 2010 for the Governorship of her home state, Anambra, the grassroots politician has declared her intention to run for the seat in November 2021.

 Biodun Olujimi 

Biodun started her career as a broadcaster and journalist. During her career as a journalist, she worked with the Nigerian Tribune, Nigerian Posts and Telecommunication, Nigerian Television Authority, the Delta Steel Company, Ovwian Aladja, Reflex Concept, DBN Television and was the Manager of DBN TV from 1993 to 1997. 

She joined her husband in politics in 1997 as the National Publicity Secretary of the extinct NCPN, she moved to All Peoples Congress (APC) after the extinction of her former party, and still became the National Publicity Secretary of the party.

In 2002, she joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was appointed in 2003 as the Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Ekiti, before she was elected to the National Assembly. She became the Deputy Governor to Governor Ayo Fayose in his first term.

In the 2019 General Elections, she initially lost her seat representing Ekiti South to the APC candidate. However, the State Assembly Election Tribunal and the Appeal Court later declared her winner of the Ekiti South Senatorial District. Consequently, she was sworn into the Nigerian Senate by the Senate President on November 14, 2019. 

Biodun, a former Senate Minority Leader is the Current Leader of the Opposition in Ekiti and is regarded as one of the most experienced female politicians in Nigeria. 

 Mark Okoye 

34-year-old Mark serves as Commissioner for Economic Planning, Budget and Development Partnerships in Anambra and holds the record as one of Nigeria’s youngest commissioners since the onset of the Fourth Republic in 1999. He is responsible for driving the development and execution of the state’s economic blueprint and medium-term strategic plans. Mark 

Mark is the recipient of The Future Awards Africa Prize for Young Person of the Year 2016. While in 2017, he was listed as one of the Most Influential People of African Descent (MIPAD) under 40. He was also the recipient of the keenly contested Junior Chambers International Awards (2017) for leadership and governance in Nigeria. In June 2018, he was selected as part of the inaugural cohort of the Obama Foundation Africa Leaders Program in Johannesburg, South Africa. In April 2019, he was presented with a Special Recognition Award by Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, as the Reform Champion for Anambra State’s performance on the World Bank 2018 Subnational Doing Business Index. 

Mark holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the George Washington University, USA, and has attended numerous executive education programs at reputable academic institutions across the world, including the Harvard Kennedy School. 

Muhammad Sani Abdullahi 

Popularly known as Dattijo, Muhammad is an International Development Expert and Nigerian public servant. He served as a policy adviser at the Executive Office of United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon in New York. Dattijo formed the core team that developed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He resigned from this appointment to serve the Nigerian government as the Commissioner for Budget and Planning in Kaduna. 

Dattijo ensured that Kaduna was the first state in Nigeria to subscribe to the Open Government Partnership. The ministry under Abdullahi ensured that Kaduna state consistently presented and delivered budgets ahead of time, making it the first state to present its budget to the state legislature. 

His rise to being the Chief of Staff to the Kaduna government is worthy of note. He was involved with the APC Kaduna Transition committee in 2015, and in 2018, was appointed as a member of the Kaduna Central Campaign Directorate for the reelection of Governor Nasir El Rufai. 

 Beni Lar 

Beni is the eldest daughter of a former Governor of Plateau; Solomon Lar and wife, Prof. Mary Lar. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Law, Beni Lar has enormous legal and legislative experience and now represents Langtang North and Langtang South Federal Constituency of Plateau. She was first elected to the house in 2007 and in 2019 she was re-elected to a fourth term in the house. 

Beni has advocated for the option for students to choose what kind of religion they would like to learn about in school, rather than having a predetermined requirement. This was passed in the House.  

She has been used as an example to describe ‘strong women in government.’ She has advocated for more women in government and is part of a new trend of more women in government than ever before. 

 Babajide Sanwo-Olu 

Babajide’s first months as the governor saw a lot of Lagosians struggling to understand if the Centre of Excellence was on auto-pilot mode. It was a charade of mockery that there is only a figure in the government house who has decided not to lead – “So, why did we send Ambode away?” He trended on Twitter for these reasons – at some point, he was called the pointing governor.  

Underground, other figures in his government have continued to reiterate that Babajide is doing the work – he is probably not someone to blow his horns. But, not too many people see progress.  

With the confirmation of the country’s index, COVID-19 came and the relatively quiet governor shone like a million stars to the admiration of Nigerians all over. At some point, any saw him as the National Incidence Commander with his impressive handling of the issue from communication to management of cases. In the past few months, he has shown a striking will to lead the State to advance its status as an indispensable stone in the field.  

Before his gubernatorial ambition, He was the Managing Director/CEO of Lagos State Property Development Corporation (LSPDC) and is a graduate of the University of Lagos, as well as the London Business SchoolLagos Business School and the John F. Kennedy School of Government. 

Being Governor of the country’s economic capital, he is on the radar of residents and other Nigerians who hope he furthers his political will towards actual developments in the State, not just on COVID-19 related issues.  

 Obafemi Hamzat 

How many states have a deputy governor as influential as the one working with Babajide Sanwo-Olu? Obafemi was appointed as Special Adviser on Works to the Honourable Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Babatunde Fashola in 2015. In September 2018, he resigned that role to contest in the Lagos state gubernatorial elections. 

After a long-fought primary, Dr Obafemi emerged as the running mate to Babajide Sanwo-Olu for whom he had stepped down during the primaries. Both men ran a campaign together that stirred conversations in different parts of the state and on March 10, 2019, after the election, Obafemi was declared Deputy Governor-Elect of Lagos State by the Independent National Electoral Commission and presented a Certificate of Return. 

Obafemi is the tall guy in a black suit in the room – noticeably leaving his mark; doing his job assisting the governor. He probably will contest again as governor.  

 Babagana Umara Zulum 

Babagana is a professor and politician elected as Governor of Borno in the governorship election of March 9, 2019, under the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and is famed to be causing developmental changes in the state. He was named the Nigerian Muslim Personality of the Year 2019 by Muslim News. 

Professor Babagana’s emergence as the Muslim News’ Nigerian Muslim Personality of the Year is not surprising going by his unique and excellence in governance exhibited since he was sworn in about a year ago as Governor of insurgency-hit Borno.

As a former Commissioner for Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement under former Governor Ahmed ShettimaBabagana has continued his rebuilding exercise of hundreds of communities destroyed by Boko Haram and likewise, finding a safe haven for millions of citizens displaced by the attacks which have since continued albeit drastically curtailed by this current administration

Peter Obi 

‘Chinese’ is one of the names attributed to Okwute- The Rock as he is fondly called by politicians in the East. His comparisons usually point to China, who he says should be the model for a developing country like Nigeria. His time as governor of Anambra ended with accolades across Nigeria. From his infrastructural development to human capital development, to favourable policies, Peter only drew ire because he stepped on toes.  

His voice is synonymous with institutional change and administrative efficiency. No wonder he was called upon, alongside Atiku Abubakar, to stop the re-election of Muhammadu Buhari and lead the country from 2019.  

You might argue that national politics diminishes reputations of previously known democrats and reliable politicians, but Peter has reaffirmed that there is a stand-out in every issue. No wonder, young Nigerians want to sit and listen to him anytime he speaks. In the hearts of many Nigerians, Peter should be at the helm of affairs, leading, the same way he led Anambra during his time as governor. He is the choice of many for the 2023 Presidency even without declaring his intention.

 Moyosore Ogunlewe 

Moyosore, a lawyer, contested the Lagos House of Assembly seat (Kosofe 1) in the 2015 and 2019 elections but lost to the APC on the two occasions. Shortly after the last general elections, he announced his resignation from the PDP and joined the APC. He ascribed his resignation from the PDP to the failure of the leadership of the opposition party to handle the crisis that engulfed the party since the 2019 general election. 

He comes across as independent-minded, a chief reason he will leave his father to join the APC and his independent nature is apparently his own way of consolidating on the name his father already built. Well-loved by his people, for his leadership style and experience in the constituency he contested and might return again in 2023.

We are here for it.  

 Tomide Akinribido 

Honourable Tomide, representing Ondo West constituency 1, at the Ondo House of Assembly. He is also the Deputy Minority Leader and Chairman, House Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Intergovernmental and Multilateral relations.  

Born in Ado-Ekiti, Tomide is a trained journalist, digital media enthusiast and politician with vast experience in youth-related political activities. He was the Ondo State Coordinator of 30%OrNothing, a socio-political group that demanded 30% inclusion of youth in all appointive and elective political posts.  

He was the Ondo President of the People’s Democratic Party Patriot Alliance (PDPPA) – a forum of young people in the PDP that demanded democratic ideals in the party. He was the Ondo state coordinator of KOWA party youth caucus-a structure that mobilized young people to participate in politics. 

Aishatu Dukku  

Aishatu ‘Mama Shatu contested in the 2015 general elections and won to represent Dukku/Nafada Federal Constituency of Gombe in the House of RepresentativesShe won again in 2019. 

She chaired the House of Representatives Committee on Electoral Matters and Political Parties Affairs and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the All Progressives Congress (APC). 

Hajiya Aishatu focuses her legislative interest on the education of the girl child, women and youth empowerment, and poverty alleviation and skills acquisition. She is committed to the establishment of schools, skills acquisition centres, scholarship programs for the youth and other similar projects. 

Toluwani Borokini 

Toluwani is the second youngest Ondo legislator currently serving as the House Whip. He is the House Committee Chairman on Education, Science and Technology, Vice-Chairman, House Committee on Information, Member, House Committee on Selection, Member, House Committee on Women Affairs and Social Development, Member, House Committee on Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Member, House Committee on Natural Resources, Member, House Committee on Works, Member, House Committee on Diaspora, Member, Cash Allocation and Welfare Committee. 

He is a different personality to different people. To some, he is a media man, to others a businessman while to some he is a good governance advocate.  

Standing as a leader, Toluwani once said, “I have always been a people’s person, I have always encouraged people, I have always encouraged the youth. I have a couple of people working with me, I have assisted some people. The Toluwani Borokini foundation has been on for about five years, we have used Echoes and Voices to promote values.” 

 Yusuff Adebisi Akande 

Yusuff, 25, is the son of popular fuji musician, Taiye Currency,’ who sold his son as the best candidate – smiling to events like a proud father.  

Yusuff, who graduated from Al-Hikmah University, Ilorin, Kwara, said his intention was to serve the people and prove to the world that the younger generations can do it better because “we are loaded with ideas on how to make things work better for the country. 

Our elders have tried their best, we appreciate them but it is time for younger generations to come on stage and put in our efforts in making our society better.” 

He is currently representing Ibadan South West I State constituency and is known to be ‘baby of the House’ and most likely the youngest lawmaker in the whole country.  

Yusuff has insisted that he contested to represent his constituents, so he is part of development from the inside. His focus is on education, with the ultimate aim of causing all-round development and accountability 

 Abok Nuhu Ayuba 

Ayuba is a first-time member of the Assembly elected from Jos East Constituency on the platform of the APC in 2019. He was a 500 level law student at the University of Jos when he was elected.

His election as the Speaker of the house at the age of 34 was hailed nationwide as representative of the youth. Ayuba was nominated for the speakership election by Ibrahim Baba Hassan  (a former Deputy Speaker of the House) from Jos North and was seconded by a first-time member of the house, Esther Dusu representing Jos North-West. A ranking member of the Assembly who had been in the house since 1999 was widely rumoured to emerge speaker but members of the house unanimously elected Ayuba waving all speakership electoral requirements to allow his emergence. 

Armed with youth and the ideologies to drive the Assembly to legislate appropriately, Abok is the inspiration for more young Nigerians in positions of authority 

Mohammed Umar Bago 

Representing Chanchaga Federal Constituency at the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He contested for the position of Speaker, in the 9th National Assembly but lost to current Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila. 

Hon. Mohammed serves with so much doggedness, courage, zeal, knowledge, open-mindedness and love for his people. Very few people will disagree that politics and power in Nigeria change people, most times negatively. Even in a period of highhandedness, Hon. Mohammed has refused to allow himself to be carried away. You look at his projects and admire the will at which he really wants to change the lives of the people.  

Mohammed might declare his intention to be Speaker again and we all wait to see how that will play out. For now, let’s admire the political will for positive change he exhibits 

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