by Hauwa Gambo
The assignment is to find some of the most powerful young people across the country in politics and public service – in our annual #ThePowerList.
It’s hard enough to find any truly young person in the corridors of power in a country where 50 year olds are still referred to as ‘restive youth’ so forgive our transgressions in this case as we stretch the age limit of 35 a bit. In terms of the freshest faces of power across the country, these are the guys you will find yourself talking to!
As one of the youngest members of the House of Representatives, the former special assistant to Speaker Dimeji Bankole finds himself close to the centre of Nigeria’s political power. He presently represents Zamfara in the House, he is part of a small cadre of legislators who are young and passionate in a way that many think our political system needs. Shinkafi is an Associate of the Nigeria Leadership Initiative.
Dr. Nurudeen Mohammed
Born on the 20th of August 1976, Dr. Mohammed is the youngest minister in the government of Goodluck Jonathan and is also hailed as the youngest minister the nation has had since its return to democracy. From Hadejia in Jigawa State, Mohammed is the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and is reputed as a prominent player in the politics of his home state. He is certainly one to watch.
There’s a reason this economist was dragged along from the World Bank when Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala accepted the job to serve her country the second time, as Coordinating Minister for the Economy. In terms of policy, this is the go-to man in the Ministry of Finance. His finger prints can be found everywhere from the Sovereign Wealth Fund to the YouWiN! business plan competition.
He doesn’t hold any political office, but as much as it pertains to opening the eyes of Nigeria’s most powerful office holders to the tools they need in a fast evolving world driven by technology, Chuta is the man to meet. His professional competence has included providing advice to several of Nigeria’s most active ministers as well as a long line of other office holders and it means that he has the ears of those who matter. That’s never a bad thing.
It’s almost a misnomer to describe Odewale only as Personal Assistant to the Ekiti State governor, a position he has held since Dr. Kayode Fayemi won the election petition that brought him into office. He is certainly a focus to reckon with in the inner chambers of the Ekiti administration, his power extending to include his growing social media influence and reputation as social critic, even though he is in government. So far, he has worn power well.
As special assistant to the minister for youth development, a portfolio that includes the National Youth Service Corps, and a man who also doubles as minister for sports, Amaize finds himself very strategically placed in terms of the matters that traditionally concern young people. His trajectory around the orbit of public service have also included a stint as campaign manager and his working closely with Nuhu Ribadu on his first incarnation. He’s in familiar territory.
If you want anything done at the Lagos State Signage Agency (LASAA) then Akande is the man you want to be talking with. Which is a big deal, since everyone and their families is looking for a billboard or other advertising space in the cluttered big city. IT also is important if you are going to be regulated by the same agency. So, say what you will about the distance between this man and the oil blocs in Abuja, but we will tell you sometimes power is found in the strangest places.
Jerry Uchechukwu Eze
If you are looking for a young man who has the ears of politicians and other public office holders in Abia State, you should be speaking to Pastor Jerry. The minister of the gospel has served the people of the state and beyond in his positions with United Nations and World Bank. No one will be surprised if, very soon, he goes knocking on the doors asking for votes. He comes fully prepared.
Now, this is a tricky one – how can you be powerful if you lost your very first election, right? Well not if it’s Nigerian politics we are on about! The 31 year old son of Lagos politics powerhouse Musiliu Obaniko was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party candidate for the House of Assembly seat of Eti Osa Constituency 2. He might have lost, but with the full might of his father’s position, he made the ruling party’s life hard? For local Lagos opposition, watch out for the new Obanikoro.
First, he was special adviser to the governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajumobi on Special Projects, and before we could blink he had been moved up as Commissioner for Health in the State, a minister the governor has referred to as “cardinal” in his administration. Not too long after, the state has commissioned the 2nd phase of its Free Health Mission in its 33 local governments. It remains to be seen what kind of public official Dr. Gbadegesin will be, but as far as we can see now, he has the governor’s ears. And that’s the best place for any power player to be.
As Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Finance, Abdulmumuni is the man who can summon the minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy if he sees something he is not comfortable with. That, dear friends, is a lot of power for any one man. A new member of the house, he has already been noted by colleagues and the press corps as very vocal. In a country that likes those who are no pushovers, his present and his future in the nation’s capital are both bright.