#YNaijaPolitics99: 99 Nigerians shaping the political landscape (I)

YNaija 99 - Politics

Politics all over the world play the most critical role in driving national development, but behind the structures, institutions, and organisations geared towards the achievement of the same are actors influencing thoughts, directions, and processes of change.

Most often, many of these actors are aware of the enormous influence they wield but underestimate the ripple effect of it while others are completely unaware, thus making it difficult to leverage the same for the public good. Many even back out of the arena due to apathy without a realisation of how much their contribution enhances nation-building.

It is in a bid to promote this consciousness among Nigerians leading and those being led; that YNaija – the platform that focuses on smart conversations and contemporary issues as they affect young people, presents YNaija Politics 99; an annual list of individuals and institutions considered as its 99 Most Influential Voices in Nigerian Politics.

Abdullah Umar Ganduje

Abdullah Umar Ganduje is a contemporary Nigerian political leader and a strategic politician that vividly understands the political terrain in Nigeria. Being in the corridor of power for more than two decades had seasoned him to be able to stand the test of time.

He joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) during the second republic and served as assistant secretary to the state government. At his first attempt at the polls in 1979, he contested a seat in the House of Representatives. An election he lost. Between 1984 and 1994, he held various government positions in the Federal Capital Development Authority, and in 1994 he became the Kano Commissioner of the Ministry of Works, Housing, and Transport. 

In 2014, he was selected as the All Progressives Congress (APC) consensus candidate for the Governor of Kano State. It was an election he enjoyed victory at the polls. In 2019, he won his bid for reelection into office making him serve for a consecutive term.

Ganduje currently sits as a serving governor of Kano. A patient and virtuous leader, Ganduje understood that to become a good leader you must be great at following. He served as the deputy governor to his political mentor Rabiu Kwankwaso during his two consecutive terms before winning at the polls to succeed him.    

Abdullahi Adamu 

An acclaimed political figure on the Nigerian political scene is rarely used, but this will just be the right qualification for Abdullahi Adamu. 

A frontier political icon in Nigeria. Abdullahi Adamu had been a household name and a regular face in governmental politics since 1977. He was one of the founding fathers of various political groups in the country. He was a pioneer member of the NPN and recently the main opposition party in Nigeria, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP).

During his days in the PDP, Adamu served as the governor of Nasarawa for two consecutive terms, before he joined the party’s board of trustees, where he served as the board’s secretary. While serving on the board of trustees, Adamu was beckoned to serve his people once more, but at the house of the senate. With will and tenacity, the polls were in his favour, he represented the good people of Nasarawa west senatorial constituency.

Abdullahi Adamu hasn’t found it easy with his political ambition and several appointments, he has been continually tested but found unresolved and unwavering.

He is a current member of the APC and was appointed its national chairman.

Abdullahi Sule

Abdullahi Sule is a brilliant and renowned entrepreneur who took the political scenery by storm. An individual of class and of vast experience in the business world. Abdullahi Sule is an internationally trained engineer with the vision to technically propel the country to greater heights. 

He led many multinational companies in Nigeria to unspeakable heights and was appointed a group managing director of Dangote sugar refinery plc. before venturing into politics full time. 

Abdullah sule joined the All Progressive Congress (APC) as a member before he declared his ambition to serve the good people of Nasarawa in the gubernatorial elections. Dreams do come true and such was the case for Abdullahi Sule, the people trooped out en masse to elect him as the governor in 2019. He currently serves as the first citizen of Nasarawa. 

Abiodun Olujimi

Abiodun Christine Olujimi is a staunch Nigerian politician who has cemented her place in history as a key facilitator in the nation’s development and as a valiant advocator for gender equity in governance. Abiodun started her career as a broadcaster and journalist. During her career as a journalist, she worked with top media outfits in the country. She joined her husband in politics in 1997 as the National Publicity Secretary of the extinct NCPN In 2002.

She later joined the PDP and this was the beginning of her great achievements in politics. In the subsequent year, Abiodun was appointed to serve as the Special Assistant to the Executive Governor of Ekiti. She was further elected as a representative in the Federal House of Assembly. Christine Olujimi was appointed the running mate to the former governor of the state, Ayo Fayose, in the 2005 gubernatorial elections. Olujimi’s brilliant contributions to politics made her a frontline candidate for appointments on election days. 

She declared her intention to run as the senatorial candidate for Ekiti south federal constituency in the 2015 polls, contesting on the mandate of the PDP she came out victorious. The PDP, Ekiti chapter appointed her as the state party leader in November 2018 to strengthen the state party in preparation for the 2019 elections. 

In the bid for reelection in the 2019 general elections, she initially lost her seat to represent Ekiti South to the candidate of the APC. However, the State Assembly Election Tribunal and the Appeal Court later declared her the winner. Consequently, she was sworn into the Nigerian Senate by the Senate President on 14 November 2019. 

Abiodun currently serves as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and minority leader of the Nigerian Senate. 

Abubakar Atiku Bagudu

Abubakar Atiku Bagudu is a political icon and a major stakeholder in the political sphere of Kebbi. His high level of doggedness and versatility made him stand the test of time and the backlashes that erupted after the dramatic death of General Sanni Abacha as he was a close henchman to the military regime. 

His relevance in the political sphere has always been a topic of discussion and controversy. Allowing the storm to pass as a result of the counteraction of the Abacha administration was a brilliant idea. Bagudu went off the radar before making a forceful come back to the political realm in the 2011 polls.

He rejoined politics with a seat in the house of senate representing the good people of Kebbi’s central senatorial district. Bagudu’s passion for active governance hurled his ambition into the gubernatorial elections of 2015 under the platform of the APC. The poll’s results shifted massively in his favour. He had a landslide victory to claim the top seat in the state.

Adewole Adebayo

Adewole Adebayo is a legal practitioner, a prominent businessman, and a Nigerian politician. He began his legal career as a litigation lawyer in the private sector before setting up his own legal practice in 2002 and recently the Kaftan TV.

Adebayo is a renowned and audacious public affairs commentator who provides advice and constructive criticism on national issues. Adebayo’s active political participation in Nigeria started as a member of the Third Force.

Adewole Adebayo declared his intention to run for the office of the Nigerian president in January 2020. According to him, he will run under a coalition of political parties.

Ahmed Baba Kaita

Baba Kaita’s passion for his people motivated him to contest the election in 2011 to the House of Representatives to represent the people of Kankia, Ingawa, Kusada Federal constituency of Katsina which he won.

He was elected on the platform of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which later merged with other parties to form APC in 2014. He was re-elected in 2015 under the platform of the APC.

He sponsored several bills in the House among which are the Terrorism act (amendment) bill 2016, Small and medium scale enterprises development agency act (amendment) bill 2016, and other bills. He also served as chairman house committee on housing and also chairman house committee on defense.

Ahmad Baba Kaita was elected to the 8th Senate for Katsina North in 2018 to fill the vacuum in the senatorial zone following the unfortunate demise of Senator Mustapha Bukar. In 2019, Kaita was re-elected again, defeating his opponent Hon Usman Mani from People’s Democratic Party (PDP). 

Ahmed Makarfi

Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi is an undeniable political elite in Nigeria. He understands the terrain and sphere of grassroots politicking. Makarfi started his career in the private sector rising through the ranks till he was appointed the director of finance and administration of the institute for peace and conflict resolution in Abuja. Makarfi had been participating in active politics for over two decades. 

His active participation became evident in 1999 when he won at the polls to become an elected governor in Kaduna. He was re-elected for a consecutive term in 2003.

As a major stakeholder in the state, his vast wealth of experience was always beckoned. He contested at the polls and won by a landslide in 2007. Makarfi was reelected to return for a second consecutive term. 

Ahmed Makarfi was appointed as the PDP national chairman at the 2016 convention held in Port Harcourt. 

Ahmed Sani Yerima

Ahmed Rufai Sani Yerima, the ex-governor of Zamfara has become an indispensable figure in Nigerian politics. Consequential from learning about politicking from some of the most influential and relevant people in the space, he was able to build a name for himself. 

Yerima started his career as a civil servant in Sokoto in the ministry of finance. He left service for active participation in state politics in 1998 when he went to the polls as an aspirant. 

He was elected the governor of the state in 1999.  He served his people for two consecutive terms in office piloting the affairs of the state. 

Yerima declared his intention to run for the top seat in the country in 2007 immediately after his term as a governor. However, at the ANPP national convention in 2007, he withdrew his ambition to support President Muhammadu Buhari as the flag bearer. 

Relinquishing his ambition for the presidency, Yerima contested for the senate and was elected to represent Zamfara’s west senatorial district. He became the house deputy minority leader. He won his reelection into the senate for a consecutive term.

Ahmed Lawan 

Lawan worked in the Yobe Civil Service as an Education Officer in the state Ministry of Education in 1985 and 1986 before lecturing at his alma mater, the University of Maiduguri between 1987 and 1997.

Lawan joined politics as an active participant at the inception of the fourth republic. He contested for a seat in the House of Representatives for the constituency of Bade/Jakusko in 1999, he won in his debut. 

In 2007, Lawan contested at the polls for a seat in the upper chamber and won. As a member of the house, Lawan was an appointed member of the National Assembly’s Joint Committee on Constitution Review. 

In 2009, as chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Lawan initiated and sponsored the Desertification Control Commission Bill. 

Lawan ran for reelection in Yobe North Senatorial District on the ANPP platform in the 9 April 2011 elections. He was elected returning member of the house with a landslide victory. Four years later, Lawan won reelection as a member of the APC.

After his reelection into the upper chamber in 2015, Lawan ran for the senate president after APC zoned the position to north eastern Nigeria based on the party’s power-sharing formula among the six geo-political zones at the time. 

After consultations with critical political stakeholders and senators elected from the northeast, Lawan was endorsed and presented to the national leadership of the party who anointed him as the candidate of the party for senate president. But Senator Bukola Saraki had other plans.

Lawan lost out in his bid to serve as president of the senate in 2015 but in 2019, Lawan was elected and sworn in as the Senate President of the Nigerian 9th Assembly, after defeating his opponent, Senator Ali Ndume who is also an APC Senator.

In a tendentious move by the chieftains of the APC, Lawan was reportedly selected as the consensual presidential candidate of the party for the 2023 election. However, this move didn’t see the light of the day. The party went to the primaries which he lost. 

He is now embroiled in a battle with Bashir Machina to return to the Senate. 

Aishatu Dahiru

Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed is a daring Nigerian politician. Her approach to politics is unique and awe-inspiring. Aishatu’s in-depth knowledge of grassroots politicking has made her the people’s champion and a favourite. 

Aishatu contested for a seat in the 2011 House of Representatives election, one in which she came out victorious. She represented the good people of Yola North/Yola South/Girei federal constituency as a member of the People’s Democratic Party in the 7th Assembly. 

With the massive strength of the people, in the 2019 polls, in the bid to seek better governance and representation for her people, she contested as a senatorial aspirant representing Adamawa central senatorial district on the mandate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). She won. 

While still in office as a sitting senator of the federal republic, she declared her intention for direct governance. She decided to contest for the governorship seat in the state. 

In an impressive primary election contest, Senator Aisha Dahiru Ahmed Binani, defeated six male aspirants and political heavyweights to secure the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket in Adamawa for the upcoming gubernatorial elections.

Ajayi Boroffice 

Only quite a handful of politicians can match the forceful prowess of Ajayi Boroffice in Ondo. His doggedness and salesman attributes know no bounds. 

Boroffice started his career in the public service before becoming an active stakeholder in Nigerian politics. He spurred his ambition by contesting at the polls in the senatorial elections in 2011. 

Understanding the terrain of grassroots politicking, Boroffice exploited his relationship with the traditional rulers of the Akoko area of the state. Bolstering with their support, Boroffice became the champion of the people at the polls. He won the election by a wide margin displacing the incumbent senator in the district. 

Boroffice found his way to the APC and was announced the deputy majority leader of the 9th senate. 

Akon Eyakenyi

Akon Eyakenyi began her career as a teacher on the Cross River Education board where she served from 1986 to 1993. In 1991, while serving as a teacher she was appointed Supervisor for Education, Youths, Sports and Culture in Oron. Subsequently, she served in the Akwa Ibom ministry of education from 1993 to 1999 as an Education Officer. 

She was appointed to serve as Commissioner for Industry, Commerce and Tourism in Akwa Ibom during the regime of Victor Attahin in 2002. Ekakenyi also served as the state chairman of the technical schools’ board in 2013 under the governorship of Goodwill Akpabio. 

She was appointed to serve as Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development in 2014.

Eyakenyi declared her intention in 2018 to run for senate and represent Akwa Ibom South senatorial district. She participated in the party primaries of the People’s Democratic Party (Nigeria) to represent Akwa Ibom South senatorial district and emerged the winner in the primaries. In the 2019 polls, she was declared the winner of the 2019 general elections to represent the Akwa Ibom South senatorial district.

Winning the elections equally made her an incumbent senate member of the house actively representing her people. She has also served the senate in various capacities.

Ali Ndume 

Ali Ndume is regarded as one of the key statesmen in his state. Ndume made his debut in active politics in 2003 when he became an elected member of the federal House of Representatives, an office he held for consecutive terms. 

On the inauguration of the sixth Assembly in 2007, he was unanimously elected as the Minority Leader.

Ndume reneged barely 100 days to the 2011 election, creating disarray in the ANPP as he was seen as a key player to turn around elections. ANPP suffered a major setback as a result of his defection to the PDP. Words have it that he was the major bankroller and backbone in his senatorial district for his party. 

Following Ndume’s defection, the PDP re-opened the sale of nomination forms. Alhaji Sanda Garba, who had been the only aspirant for the South Borno Senate seat stepped down to make way for Ndume as the PDP candidate. Ndume defeated all contestants at the polls to be elected as a senate member representing his district. 

Aminu Bello 

Aminu Bello Masari is one of the very few Nigerian politicians often regarded as an eloquent speaker and a man of a distinct class. 

Masari came close to politics and its appurtenances in 1991 when he was appointed the commissioner for works, housing and transport in Katsina. In 2003, he debuted at the polls when he contested for the Nigeria House of Representatives. Masari returned to the polls in 2011, but as the gubernatorial candidate of the defunct Congress for Progressive Change, an election he lost. 

With purpose and tenacity, Masari was determined not to let defeat in an election halt his ambitions and the will to serve the good people of his state. Masari returned to the polls once more, having done his assignments but also under the platform of the All Progressives Congress. The polls went in his favour and he emerged as the governor of the state. Masari contested a return election in 2019 which he won by a landslide over the state opposition contestant. 

Aminu Tambuwal 

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal will go down memory lane as one of the all-time greats of modern-day politics. He’s undisputable one of the greatest visionaries that holds Sokoto. Tambuawal can be described as a fair, decisive and diplomatic leader to his people. 

Participating in politics is something, but knowing how it’s played is another. 

Tambuwal learned and watched closely while working as a personal assistant to Senator Abdullah Wali when he served as the senate leader. Tambuwal made his first appearance on the ballot papers when he contested a legislative seat as a representative of the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. He got good results from the poll and was elected on the platform of the ANPP.

While serving in the House of Representatives, his vast wealth of knowledge was evident and he served in various capacities in the house. He was appointed the minority leader of the house before his defection to the PDP. Upon his re-election in 2007, he became the deputy chief whip of the house.

Tambuwal returned to his state where he contested during the gubernatorial election. When the results from the polls were released, by a slim margin, he was victorious. 

On the eve of the election year in 2018, Tambuawal declared his intent to contest for the apex political seat in the country under the platform of the PDP. It was a fiercely contested primary with several top political icons vying for the party’s ticket. Tambuwal was backed by the governor of Rivers, Nyesom Wike. He ended up as the first runner-up, second only to the former vice president, Atiku Abubakar.

Atiku Abubakar 

Atiku Abubakar is a master of modern-day politics. He is arguably one of the greatest in Nigeria’s history. Atiku has contested for the top seat in the country more times than we remember and has gone close to winning on several occasions. 

Atiku was elected the governor of Adamawa in 1998 after losing at his first attempt. He became the running mate to Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidential ambition in 1999 and they also worked together in 2003 to do a second tenure.

Since his entry into politics in 1989, Atiku Abubakar has unsuccessfully contested five times for the Office of President of Nigeria in 1993, 2007, 2011, 2015 and 2019. He was also able to claim the presidential ticket and the official flag bearer of the PDP in the upcoming 2023 general elections.

Anyim Pius Anyim

Anyim Pius Anyim is a man of indisputable accomplishments. He is one who has been critically acclaimed as one of the most vibrant and valorous senate presidents in Nigeria’s history. 

Pius Anyim has served in different capacities but the highlight was his time in the Senate and when he was the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) during President Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency.

Pius Anyim claimed the Ebonyi south senatorial district seat in the Senate in the 1999 elections under the platform of the PDP. As a new member of the Senate, Pius Ayim was appointed senate president after the impeachment of Chuba Okadigbo.  

Midway into his tenure as the president of the senate, Pius Anyim made an audacious attempt to impeach President Olusegun Obasanjo, an endeavour that was futile. Pius Ayim announced his intent to run for the office of the president in 2023, a dream that couldn’t see the light of the day.

Ayodele Fayose 

Ayodele Fayose is no doubt a politician in a class of his own. An eloquent, unresolved and daredevil political icon. He has shown times without numbers that he will remain unflinching in the face of uncertainties and difficulties. He has proven to be a menace to his foes and often unapologetic.

Fayose had been actively involved in politics for more than two decades in Nigeria. His major debut at the polls was during the 2003 gubernatorial elections in Ekiti. Against all odds, Fayose had the electorates voting in his favour, beating an incumbent governor in the elections. His time in office was cut short when the motion to forcefully remove him from office was validated. Fayose’s impeachment happened in October 2006, three years into his term. 

Without swerving, Fayose returned to the poll as the flag bearer of the PDP in the 2014 gubernatorial elections, once again, he was victorious at the poll defeating another incumbent governor. This landmark victory made him the only Nigerian politician to ever displaced incumbent governors twice at the polls.

Babagana Zulum 

Babagana Umara Zulum is an individual who completely mastered the act of governance and representation. His outstanding leadership qualities were evident when he was active in civil service. Zulum is a renowned and highly respected educational scholar and an erudite professor. Over the years of active service in the Nigerian educational sector, Zulum had acted in various capacities which were scandalously free and free from any vivid irregularities.

Zulum opted for civil service to pursue his ambition to serve the good people of Borno. Diving into the Nigeria political realm was a no-brainer but for a man of unique qualities as Zulum, he was able to safely navigate through the stormy tides. In the later part of 2018, Zulum became the official flag bearer of the APC. Professor Zulum came out victorious in the 2019 polls with a landslide vote 

Babafemi Ojodu

Babafemi Ojudu is a Nigerian journalist and a highly respected pressman. His passion and aspirations to genuinely represent the people of his home state, Ekiti drove him to the political sphere. 

He started his career as a valiant young reporter while in the university of Ife. He and a group of friends founded a journal called the parrot which he edited until graduation. On completing his National Youth Service, Ojudu worked as a reporter for The Guardian while attending the University of Lagos (1985–86), where he studied for a master’s degree in Political Science. 

In 2010, his active participation in politics was evident. Ojudu formally declared that he would run for the Senate in August 2010. He left his post as Group Managing Editor of Independent Communications Network to run for office.

In 2011, primaries for ACN were rescheduled in some parts of the state and ultimately couldn’t hold. As a result, Ojudu’s name was submitted by the party as its candidate for the upcoming elections in the district.  However, on 17 March 2011, a Federal High Court in Abuja issued a judgment that recognised the incumbent Senator Festus Bode-Olaas the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) candidate for Ekiti Central.  But at a later trial, the verdict was set aside and overruled.

In the subsequent election of 2011, Ojudu became victorious and claimed the senatorial seat for his constituency.  After his term in office, Ojudu was appointed Special Adviser for Political Matters by President M. Buhari in 2016.

Babajide Obanikoro

IBRAHIM BABAJIDE OBANIKORO, popularly called IBO, was born to Senator Musiliu Olatunde and Alhaja Morufat Obanikoro of Isale-Eko a part of Lagos in the early eighties.

His foray into politics started in school in 2003, when he was elected treasurer of the African Students Association of St Cloud University, Minnesota, USA. From there, he rose to become the president of the association.

IBO was the Director of Youth Involvement, Koro Youth Campaign Organisation between 2006 and 2007. From his active involvement in political mobilisation, IBO got a firm grasp of grassroots politics, having cut his teeth on his father’s campaign trail.

But, Babajide Obanikoro lost his second term bid at the APC House of Representatives primaries in May 2022.

Babatunde Raji Fashola

Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) served the government of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as the state Chief of Staff. He also dubbed as the Honorable Commissioner to the Governor’s office, becoming the first person to hold both offices simultaneously.

Succeeding his boss, Fashola was announced as the Action Congress flag bearer in the 2007 elections. The election result came out in his favour, he became the Lagos governor. He remained in office for consecutive terms when he won the re-elections in 2011.  

Immediately after leaving office, Fashola was beckoned on to serve at the federal level. The government of President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the Minister of Power, Works and Housing during the residency first term in office. Upon reelection in 2019, he was to continue as Minister of Works and Housing. 

Bala Mohammed

Bala Abdulkadir Mohammed served at the federal ministry of internal affairs, as the presidential principal administrative officer, acting in the role of chief supplies officer before moving up the ranks as an assistant director at the federal ministry of power and steel to Deputy Director/SA to Honorable Minister at the Federal Ministry of Transport.

Bala Mohammed voluntarily retired from civil service as the Director of Administration and Supplies at the Nigerian Meteorological Agency before joining politics. 

Having joined the ANPP, Bala became its flag bearer for Bauchi’s south senatorial district in the 2007 elections. The polls were in his favour as he became a senate member. A senator of the Federal Republic, Bala Mohammed served in various capacities, as evident from his insightful knowledge of governance and leadership skills he has mastered over the years while in service. 

In 2010, Bala Mohammed was appointed the minister of the federal capital territory FCT shortly after he defected to the PDP. Bala Mohammed currently seats as the incumbent governor of Bauchi state having won at the polls in the 2019 general elections.

Bankole Wellington

Bankole Wellington, popularly known as Banky W is a recognised hip-hop brand name, a musician and a Nigerian politician. 

He became active in Nigeria politics in 2018, Wellington announced his intent to run for the Lagos’ Eti-Osa Federal Constituency seat in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, on the platform of the Modern Democratic Party. It was a party which had been recently founded in 2017. Wellington lost the Eti-Osa Federal Constituency Elections to Babajide Obanikoro of the All Progressive Congress in the 2019 polls.

Ahead of the 2023 general election, Wellington announced that he had decamped from the Modern Democratic Party to the People’s Democratic Party, seeking the party’s ticket to again vie for the Lagos’ Eti-Osa Federal Constituency seat in Nigeria’s House of Representatives.

In the party’s arranged primary for the constituency, Wellington was announced the winner and the official flag bearer for the party. 

Bashir Machina 

Hon. Sheriff as he is popularly referred to is gradually becoming a household name in the political sphere in Yobe. He is an excellent and experienced grassroots politician who rose to the limelight in the 1990s and set history as the first and only youth in his 20s to be voted into the House of Representatives, representing Karasuwa, Nguru, Machina, Yusufari federal constituency on the platform of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

With the formation of APC in 2014, Bashir served the party in various capacities such as chairman of the APC congress committee in Ogun. Under the guidance and recommendation of Governor Mai Mala Buni, the then national secretary of the APC, now Governor of Yobe, Bashir was saddled with the responsibility as chairman of the APC National Assembly Elections Screening Committee in Ogun. Since 2014, Bashir has served the APC on different committees as a member, an assignment which makes his résumé impressive at the APC national headquarters.

In 2019, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him chairman Governing Board of the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC), a position he held until March 2022.  

Bashir declared his intention to run for the constituency senatorial seat in the Senate after the incumbent senator Ahmed Lawan picked up the party’s presidential form.

Bashir won at the primaries and became the flag bearer of the party. After missing out as the presidential candidate Ahmed Lawan sought to return as the senatorial candidate but met blatant revolt from Bashir. 

Beta Edu

Beta Edu is a Nigerian politician and a registered public health administrator. Betta’s political journey started in her university days, when she served as vice president of the students’ union government, University of Calabar, in 2007–2008 and also served as president of the Female leadership forum, University of Calabar. She served in the SUG parliament as the Chairman House committee on health and HIV/AIDS.

In 2015, she became the special adviser to Governor Benedict Ayade on community and primary health care, the youngest in the country. In May 2016, she was appointed as pioneer DG of Cross River State Primary Health Care Agency until 2019 when she was appointed Cross River State Commissioner for Health.

In 2020, Betta Edu was chairman of the Cross River COVID-19 Taskforce, She coordinated the Cross River State COVID-19 Response, and established and coordinated the Emergency Operations Center for COVID-19 in the state. In August 2020, she emerged as National Chairman of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum.

Betta Edu is also known to be a philanthropist who pays school fees for the less privileged children in her community. Betta Edu emerged the youngest national women leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in March 2022 after defeating her opponent by 2,662 to 117 votes at the APC National convention 

Betty Abiafi

Betty Jocelyne Okagua – Apiafi is a Nigerian politician, economist, retired banker and, educationist. Apiafi is a strong advocate for women affairs, education and, bank sector reforms. 

In the 2007 elections, she contested as a House of Representatives aspirant on the mandate of the PDP, where she was declared the victor. She served as a House of Representatives Member for Abua/Odual-Ahoada East Federal Constituency of Rivers State since 2007. 

In 2011, Hon. Betty Apiafi was among a select number of Nigerian Parliamentarians to successfully amend the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria which was assented to by the then President of Nigeria  Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

Betty Apiafi was elected into the Nigerian Senate of the 9th Assembly in 2019 under the People’s Democratic Party. She currently represents the Rivers West Senatorial District. She is the first female member of the Nigerian House of Representative and Member of the Senate from Rivers.

She was also a member of the PAN African Parliament from 2007 to 2015.

Biodun Oyebanji

Abiodun Ayobami Oyebanji is a Nigerian politician, a former Secretary to the Ekiti Government, Chief of Staff, and currently Governor-elect of Ekiti. Biodun Oyebanji has at various points served in public service through appointment or as a member of committees.

In 1994, Oyebanji was appointed the Secretary of the committee set up for the creation of Ekiti, headed by Baba Deji Falegan. He was also the Secretary of the Ekiti Development Fund at one point. 

When Nigeria reverted to democracy in 1999, at 32 years old, he was named as one of the top advisers to Otunba Niyi Adebayo, the state’s first democratically elected governor of Ekiti. Oyebanji ascended through the ranks to become the state governor’s Chief of Staff in 2003.

In 2009, he was appointed as the chairman of the governing board, Citizenship and Leadership Training center under the federal ministry of youth and sports development (June 2009 – December 2010).

In 2010, Oyebanji was appointed the commissioner for integration and intergovernmental affairs and later Ekiti’s office of transformation strategy and delivery (OTSD) a year later by the administration of Kayode Fayemi.

Oyebanji, in 2018, was appointed to serve as the secretary to the state government by Kayode Fayemi, after being re-elected for a second term as Governor of Ekiti.

Oyebanji resigned his position as the Secretary to the State Government to pursue his governorship aspirations in 2021. Later that year, he declared his intention to contest the Ekiti State Gubernatorial Election in 2022 

Oyebanji contested the party’s primary unopposed to emerge as the All Progressives Congress governorship flag bearer in the 2022 Ekiti State gubernatorial election.

On 18 June 2022, Oyebanji was elected governor on the APC platform with a 30% margin over second-place finisher and former Governor Olusegun Oni of the Social Democratic Party.

Bisi Akande

Abdukareem Adebisi Bamidele Akande is an indispensable and compelling grassroots political icon in Osun and the nation as a whole. Baba Akande, as he is popularly referred to, was one of the founding fathers and brain behind the merger and formation of the APC. He became the pioneer chairman of the party, propelling it to its most enjoyed success in the 2015 general election as the first time an opposition will unseat an incumbent president in Nigeria’s history. 

Baba Akande contested for the governor’s seat in Osun in the 1999 polls, running on the mandate of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) party, which had recently formed as a political arm of the Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere. He succeeded Col. Theophilus Bamigboye, who had been named as the military administrator of the State in August 1998, and who handed over power to the civilian elected governor. In May 1999, Akande inaugurated the second Assembly in Osun State. 

Blessing Onuh

Blessing Onyeche Onuh is a daughter to one of the most celebrated political icons of the modern era. Blessing grew up to understand the terrain and structure of Nigerian politics. She learnt a great deal from her father, the former senate president, David Mark. 

Since graduating from school, blessing has had the privilege to work closely with top service chiefs, directors of industries, and high profile politicians in the country.  In 2005, she was appointed Special Assistant to the Minister of State for Education. She was later appointed as Special Assistant to the Minister of Intergovernmental, Local Government and Special Duties. While in this role, she also served as Acting Chairman, Federal Capital Territory Committee on the Prerogative of Mercy. She was then appointed as Secretary for the Social Welfare Secretariat in the Federal Capital Territory Administration. 

Serving in different capacities had given her the much-needed exposure to safely navigate the tides of the political sphere, she contested for the position of the House of Representatives member for Otukpo/Ohimini federal constituency under the People’s Democratic Party in Benue State but lost the primaries to her uncle Johnson Ahubi. She left the party to join the APGA. She then contested the election with APGA and became a member of the House of Representatives representing the Otukpo/Ohimini federal constituency. In February 2021, Onuh defected to the APC, citing a crisis in Benue APGA leadership.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu 

Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu, the Asiwaju of Lagos, an imperial Jagaban. A man only in the class which he created. His name had grown so rooted in the Nigerian political sphere that he might go down as the most influential politician of the modern-day era, arguably. Jagban has often been criticised but is quite still filled with admiration for what he has truly done for his people. Tinubu is an established man, who not only seeks to be elevated amongst great men but takes the walk with his kinsmen. 

Tinubu started his career in finance as a brilliant accountant working in the United States before he returned to Nigeria in the mid-80s. He continued working in financial management before entering politics as a successful Lagos West senatorial candidate in 1992 under the banner of the Social Democratic Party. After Dictator Sani Abacha dissolved the Senate in 1993, Tinubu became an activist campaigning for the return of democracy as a part of the Coalition movement. Although he was forced into exile in 1994, Tinubu returned after Abacha’s 1998 death triggered the beginning of the transition to the Fourth Republic   

In the first post-transition Lagos gubernatorial election, Tinubu won by a wide margin as a member of the Alliance for Democracy. He was re-elected for a consecutive term in office. Tinubu’s terms in office were centred on the attempts at modernising Lagos.  

In the bid for the presidency, Tinubu survived a fiercely contested primary to clinch the presidential ticket of the APC and became the official flag bearer for the 2023 elections.

Boss Mustapha

Boss Gidahyelda Mustapha has been actively involved in Nigeria’s political scenes for more than three decades. After his graduation from law in the 80s, boss Mustapha dived into politics. He served as a member of the constituent assembly that drafted the constitution of the third Nigeria republic. In various capacities, Boss Mustapha has served as the party chairman of People’s Solidarity Party in the defunct Gongola state, a party amongst other that was disbanded by Gen Ibrahim Babangida during his tenure as a military head of state and also state chairman for Adamawa SDP.

Boss Mustapha had his first attempt at the polls in 1991 on the mandate of the SDP, an election he lost. During the presidency of Olusegun Obasanjo, Mustapha was a member of the presidential task committee to investigate the activities of the petroleum trust fund. 

Sequel to the various party merger in 2013 that birthed the APC, Boss Mustapha was the deputy national chairman of the Action Congress of Nigeria, one of the top major parties in the coalition. Projecting toward the 2015 general election, he was a key player in the campaign team that brought President Muhammadu Buhari to power. 

Boss Mustapha currently serves as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.

Bukola Saraki 

Bukola Abubakar Saraki is one of the most successful political personalities in Nigeria’s history. He is one who is undeniably strategically and tactically inclined. He understands the tricks and holds one of the biggest cards in the political game. The Saraki’s is a household name in the Nigeria politic, a name that opens sealed doors.

Bukola Saraki was elected Governor of Kwara on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) defeating the incumbent Governor Muhammed Lawal of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). He won his reelection in 2007 for a consecutive term in office. Saraki enjoyed his terms in office leading reforms in the state in various sectors. 

Saraki left office as a governor to represent the good people of Kwara central senatorial district, succeeding his sister Gbemisola Saraki-Forowa. As a sitting senator of the federal republic, Saraki chaired the senate committee on environment and ecology and was also a member of the capital market and finance.

Saraki was reelected to the senate for a consecutive term in 2015. Against all odds, Saraki emerged an unopposed candidate for the seat of the senate president by a cross party alliance of PDP and APC senators. His tenure as the president of the senate was mar by a stiff opposition by Senator Ahmed Lawan, who seemed like a preferred candidate for the seat.

Charles Soludo

Charles Chukwuma Soludo is a highly respected economics professor and an intellectually inclined individual with the right armory for true leadership. Before venturing into politics, Charles Soludo served as the former governor and chairman of the board of directors of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). His appointment to lead the apex monetary authority in Nigeria was a no-brainer as he was distinct as one of the very few individuals with the knowledge and set skills to maintain the reserve and ensure the economic stability of the country. 

Years after his appointment, Soludo announced his aspiration for the seat of the Governor of Anambra State, in south-eastern Nigeria. At his debut at the polls, Soludo contested on the mandate of the PDP, he however lost the election to Peter Obi. However, with his perceived solid performance as CBN governor, Soludo remained a respected figure in the political scene. 

After his debutant defeat at the poll, Soludo’s ambition for governance still remained resolute. He declared his intention to run again but under the mandate of APGA. The election was held and Soludo was victorious. He was sworn in as the fifth Governor of Anambra. 

Chris Ngige 

Chris Nwabueze Ngige is a tenacious political figure in Nigerian politics. A self-acclaimed jack of all trade, master of all. A man that has experienced it all. His will and ambition has been key to his relevance in the political sphere today. 

He kick-started his career in politics as far back as in the 90s. He served as an Assistant National Secretary and Zonal Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the South East region of Nigeria. 

In 2003, Ngige was elected governor of Anambra amid controversial circumstances. Ngige experienced a turbulent stay in office during his tenure. An unsuccessful impeachment attempt was made against him through a fabricated letter of resignation.

However, his term was shortened when an election tribunal nullified his 2003 victory. Following Peter Obi’s subsequent impeachment, Ngige attempted to participate in governorship elections in 2007 but was frustrated by the Independent National Electoral Commission and federal disqualification that halted his ambition. 

In the 2010 polls, Ngige was among the heavyweight contestants during the gubernatorial elections. But unfortunately for him, he conceded defeat to the incumbent governor of the state. Having lost the gubernatorial elections, Ngige ran for a seat in the Senate in 2011. He was victorious in the polls to represent Anambra Central senatorial district. Ngige’s tenure as a senator of the Federal Republic of Nigeria came to an end following his defeat in the 2015 election.

Ngige became a minister of the federal republic under the presidency of President Muhammadu in 2015. He also served as a returning minister in the president’s cabinet. In April 2022, he declared his interest to run for the presidency in the 2023 polls.

Christopher Imumulen

Christopher Irene Imumolen is the Addo of Abaji, an educationist, a university professor, a serial entrepreneur, a business mogul, and a Nigerian Politician. He is the founder of Joint Professional Training and Support International Limited (JPTS) and UNIC Foundation, a non-profit, non-governmental organization.

He started his work career as a Plant Engineer at BOC Gases Nigeria Plc. in February 2005. After he established the Joint Professional Training and Support International Limited (JPTS) in 2009, an educational body that has trained 30,000+ certified Professionals. It is acclaimed that ex-Senator Dino Melaye is as well one of the institution’s alumni, following honorary conferment.  

He is President of the Onshore Offshore Oil and Gas Professional and was also appointed as the Senior Technical Adviser to the Akwa-Ibom government on Oil and Gas matters, he was also the Technical Safety Consultant to NAPECO Kuwait. 

Imumolen picked a form of Interest with the Accord Party, and announced his intention to run for Nigeria’s highest office in 2021. He popularly stated that people can’t continue to fold their hands with the current state of the nation.

David Umahi

David Nweze Umahi is one of the fastest-rising political stars in the country. He is a political tactician and an apt analyst. Umahi became politically active in 2007, when he served as the chairman of the People’s Democratic Party in Ebonyi state. 

In 2011, Umahi became the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi on a ticket with the-then Governor Martin Elechi. However, in 2014, Governor Elechi had other plans when he supported Onyebuchi Chukwu, Minister of Health, as his successor, which Umahi stated violated an understanding that he would take that role. Umahi went ahead to defeat Chukwu in the party’s primaries. 

Umahi won at the polls to be elected as Governor of Ebonyi in the 2015 gubernatorial elections. The election result was fiercely revolted on the ground of widespread irregularities. However, the legitimacy of the election was upheld by the Governorship Election Tribunal. Umahi was reelected back to the office in 2019 with a landslide victory.  

In the later part of 2020, Umahi made a decisive deflection from the PDP to join the APC on the ground that the People’s Democratic Party has been unfair to the Southeast Geopolitical Zone and that it has been hijacked by one or two individuals. An audacious move that was commenced by President Buhari as a bold step driven by principle rather than opportunistic moves or coercion. 

In January 2022, Umahi declared his intention to run for the office of the President of Nigeria in the 2023 general elections after consulting with President Muhammadu. While ironing out his plans for the APC primaries, a federal high court sacked Umahi and his deputy on the ground of deflecting to the APC while in office. A pending case in the court of appeal has yet to hear the judgment of the federal high court in Abuja.

Dabiri Erewa-Abike

Abike Kafayat Oluwatoyin Dabiri-Erewa is a Nigerian politician and member of the Nigeria Federal House of Representatives representing the Ikorodu Federal Constituency of Lagos. She chaired the House Committee on Media and Publicity related. 

Dabiri-erewa has an outstanding resume in diaspora matters. In 2003, she debuted at the polls when she contested her first elections for a seat in the House of Representatives. She won reelection back to the house in 2007 and 2011.  

In 2015, she was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora. In 2018, Dabiri-Erewa was appointed by the presidency to Chairman Nigerians in the Diaspora Commission, an office she still holds today.

Deji Jakande 

Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande needs little or no introduction considering his time in Lagos’ political landscape. He was the first civilian governor of Lagos. But Deji is following in his footsteps.

Deji Jakande officially declared to contest as the lawmaker for Mushin Constituency One in the House of Representatives in 2015. But has not enjoyed the kind of success his father had.

Doyin Okupe

Adedoyin Ajibike Okupe is one of the highly-rated professional medical practitioners in the country. As much as he does medicine, Okupe still finds time to write. He is the author and publisher of the health newspaper called life mirror. Okupe is a man of versatility and quite active in party politics. 

The renowned doctor has been in the political sphere of Nigeria for decades. He once served as the National Publicity Secretary of the National Republican Convention (NRC).

Okupe was one of the evident anti-Abacha led administrations, he was detained by the government for his high criticism and subsequently disqualified from participating in United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) primaries.

Since the third republic, Okupe relevancy cannot be underestimated, he was one of the representatives of the NRC that observed the collation of the 1993 Nigerian presidential election results at the headquarters of the National Electoral Commission (NEC). 

At the advent of the current Fourth Nigerian Republic, Okupe was appointed Special Assistant on Media and Publicity to President Olusegun Obasanjo.

In 2002, he was one of the governorship aspirants of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) primaries in Ogun alongside Gbenga Daniel.

Okupe is an industrious and plain-spokesman, he served as publicist at various times to Nigerian presidential aspirants of the PDP, including President Olusegun Obasanjo, President Goodluck Jonathan, Bukola Saraki and Vice President Atiku Abubakar.

He is currently Peter Obi’s running for the 2023 presidential election.

Dumebi Kachikwu

Dumebi Kachikwu is a Nigerian Billionaire Media Entrepreneur and the Chairman of Roots Television Nigeria. He emerged as the presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress (ADC) for the 2023 general elections. 

Before he joined the ADC in October 2021, he previously contested as the Young Progressives Party (YPP) presidential candidate in 2019.

Erelu Obada

Olusola Obada is a Nigerian politician and lawyer by profession. A woman of virtue who clearly understands the injunction of the law. She is a fierce defender of the girl child and women in the work environment. 

In 2003, Olusola contested as the running mate of Olagunsoye Oyinlola for the gubernatorial elections in Osun state. She acted in her capacity as the state deputy governor until 2010. In January 2011, Obada was appointed into the Directorate position, covering the South-West of Nigeria for the Goodluck and Sambo Presidential Campaign Organisation. 

In 2011, following Jonathan’s victory in the Presidential elections, Obada was appointed Minister of State for Defense by the president, and she also served in Jonathan’s cabinet as de facto Defense Minister until a major reshuffle in September 2013. President Goodluck Jonathan appointed her as one of the top five Nigerian elder-statesmen in the 2014 national convention. 

The former president Goodluck Jonathan honoured her with the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) national award. 

Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu

Erhiatake Ibori-Suenu, daughter of James Ibori, former governor of Delta, defeated Ben Igbakpa, incumbent lawmaker representing the Ethiope federal constituency of the state.

Ibori-Suenu is the lawmaker currently representing Ethiope west constituency in the Delta house of assembly, while Igbakpa is an associate of Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta.

Femi Gbagabiamila  

Olufemi Hakeem Gbajabiamila is a top Nigerian politician and a lawyer by profession. He’s a man of iconic personality and a visionary. He represents Surulere 1 constituency of Lagos.

Gbajabiamila has continually become a politician with numbers at the polls. He runs a tactically inclined camp that understands the political terrain of Nigeria. Gbajabiamila’s debut at the polls was in 2003 when he ran for a seat in the House of representative, he won his reelection in 2007. 

Gbajabiamila has served in various capacities as a member of the House of Representatives. Femi was the minority leader of the house in the 7th National Assembly. He headed the House of Representatives ad hoc committee investigating claims by the Asset Management Company. 

He currently sits as the elected Speaker in the 9th House of Representatives.

Gbemisola Saraki

Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki is one of the most influential women in Nigeria’s modern-day politics. As a Saraki, she has kept the family flag flying with her tremendous and meritorious impact in the political world. Gbemisola possesses an outstanding portfolio worthy of emulation. 

Gbemisola Saraki took her first step in governance when she contested the 1999 elections. She contested for a seat in the federal House of Representatives representing Asa/Ilorin West Federal Constituency, Kwara on the mandate of the All people’s party. 

In 2003, she contested in the general elections vying for a seat in the Senate under the platform of the PDP representing the good people of the Central Senatorial District of Kwara. She won her reelection in 2007 for a consecutive term in the senate.

In 2011, she contested the gubernatorial election of Kwara under the ACPN party, losing the election to PDP’s Abdul Fatah Ahmed. As a legislator from 2003 to 2011, she was a member of several committees and served in various capacities. 

Gbemisola Saraki currently sits as the Minister of State for Transportation under the presidency of President Muhammadu Buhari 

Godswill Akpabio

Chief Godswill Obot Akpabio, is one of the most iconic political personalities that reshaped the political landscape of Akwa Ibom. Akpabio had a very brief stint as a teacher before joining a law firm to practice his profession. He proceeded to the telecom industry where he rose through the ranks to become one of the directors facilitating a future for the burgeoning telecom industry. 

His contributions in the telecom industry were distinct and evident, the then governor Obong victor appointed him as one of his cabinet chief as the honourable Commissioner for Petroleum and Natural Resources. Just in the space of four years, Akpabio served in three key ministries in the state. 

In 2006, he declared his intention to contest for the state’s top seat on the mandate of the PDP. He enjoyed a massive support of his people which made him victorious at the polls in 2007.

His reelection was in 2011 for a consecutive term.  As one of the major stakeholders in the PDP, the party’s governor’s forum elected him as its chairman. After the expiration of his term, he won the election for a seat in the house of senate to represent the good people of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District. 

In the senate, Akpabio was nominated by a caucus of the south-south sitting senators and was ratified by a majority of the party seat holders after the party lost his majority to the APC in that year’s general elections. His deflection to the ruling party made him resign his minority leader position in 2018. A move that was marked by a rally in his hometown township stadium. 

Akpabio was appointed in 2019 as Minister of the Federal republic of Nigeria for Niger Delta Affairs by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Godwin Obaseki

Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki is a Nigerian politician and businessman who is currently the Governor of Edo State. He was first elected governor under the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in year 2016 where He defeated Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the PDP and was sworn in as governor in 2016. Before becoming governor, he had served as the chairman of the Edo Economic and Strategy Team inaugurated by former Governor Adams Oshiomole in March 2009. 

Obaseki began his career as a stockbroker in 1983 with Capital Trust Brokers Limited, Lagos. He later transferred his services to the International Merchant Bank. He moved to AVC Funds Limited, Lagos, in 1988, where he served as a Project Manager. He moved back to New York and worked as a Principal of Equatorial Finance Company, a Financial Advisory firm. He focused on Africa and provided Structured Trade Finance for African-related transactions.

In 2016, Obaseki was elected as the Governor of Edo under the platform of the All Progressives Congress. During the 2020 Edo Gubernatorial Election, Obaseki sought re-election under the APC but was controversially disqualified by the party’s Primary Election Screening Committee from contesting the primary elections, citing missing letters on the governor’s National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate and what other observers described as spurious excuses surrounding the governor’s university admission. The governor had had a running battle with his predecessor, Comrade Oshiomhole, the National Chairman of the APC, who headed the party’s National Working Committee (NWC) at the time, which constituted the screening committee. 

Later in 2020, Obaseki resigned his membership from the All Progressives Congress and decamped to the People’s Democratic Party, and declared his intentions to seek re-election on the platform. PDP described him as a big catch. On 20 September 2020, The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced Obaseki the winner of the Edo State gubernatorial election.

Grace Bent

Grace Folashade Bent is a Nigerian senator who was elected in April 2007 on the People’s Democratic Party platform in the Adamawa South constituency of Adamawa.

After the election in 2007 Grace Folashade Bent became chair of the Nigerian Senate Committee on Environment. In this role, she was involved in controversy over an extension of a permission for gas flaring granted to oil companies by President Umaru Yar’Adua without consultation with the Senate.

In March 2009, Senator Bent opposed the establishment of a Desert Control Commission on the basis that this would subsume or duplicate the functions of the national committee on ecological problems. 

Bent competed in the PDP primaries to be the April 2011 candidate for Adamawa South Senator but lost to Ahmed Hassan Barata.

Bent, who was said to have been favoured by the PDP party leadership, later claimed that she had won a rerun primary. While the question was being reviewed, a judge ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to remove Barata’s name from the list of candidates and replace it with Bent. Bent’s claim was later rejected by the INEC, by the Federal High Court, Abuja and by the PDP’s counsel.

…to be continued

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