Prizes & Awards

Osinbajo & Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala Are Leadership Newspaper Persons Of The Year 2021.

While Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was the steady hand in the stormy and fraught Nigerian political waters in 2021, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala emerged the Director General of the World Trade Organisation in spite of a well-oiled campaign of calumny against her and Nigeria by forces that regard all global institutions as their puppet theatres. For these, and many more reasons inside this edition, Osinbajo and Okonjo-Iweala are LEADERSHIP Persons of the Year 2021.

For his key role in steadying the ship of state through the storms as well as laying the foundation for the social intervention programmes of the current administration, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo is LEADERSHIP Person of the Year 2021

In a 1999 CNN interview, Larry King asked former U.S. President George H.W. Bush what the toughest part about being vice president was. Bush’s’ response was, “Well, you are not your own person if you believe in loyalty. And if you want to go out carving your own track, fine. But you don’t get anything to do because the president must know the vice president is not going to be out there or trying to make himself look good to the detriment of the president.”

And that is in a country that prides itself on being the best example of democracy in the world. In Nigeria where tribe and religion — and sometimes even the village you come from — play an outsized role in political outcomes, the impetus for a vice president to want to step out of the president’s shadow is ever present. The country has seen what can happen with the kind of competitive relationship driven by regional, political and religious forces. It took the intervention of the Supreme Court in 2006/2007 to stop the two most powerful men in the country from desecrating the constitution.

2007 is a period that makes it easier to appreciate any politician who finds himself in the office of the vice president and manages to keep the voices of tribe, religion, family and village at bay. It was an attempt to placate these same voices and balance the regional forces in Nigeria’s politics that led to the selection of Yemi Osinbajo as the running mate to Muhammadu Buhari in the first place. As a law professor, a pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), with family ties to the late sage, Obafemi Awolowo, he was a perfect fit. So, in a sense, Osinbajo’s job as vice president has always been to provide political stability for both the president and the country in general.

And never has that balancing act of the vice president been more tested than in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests of October 2020. Osinbajo’s steady hands worked diligently, from behind the scenes, to heal the rift that had taken a generational, anti-government and regional dimension. Some of the efforts to bridge the generational gap manifested in the introduction of the National Youth Conference. As if epitomising what he stands for in the government and in today’s Nigeria, the vice president’s message to the youth at the conference in early November was to reject the temptation of inheriting the biases and prejudices of their parent’s generation.

Of course, there were many more forces at play during the #EndSARS protests than just youths: loyalty to the country, the president and party. The stability and leadership he has provided in the last one year to keep Nigeria’s many factions from tearing one another apart would have been enough to name Yemi Osinbajo LEADERSHIP’s Person of the Year. But our reasons go beyond that.

The idea that Nigeria, a developing country with scarce resources, could deliver financial aid and social interventions to the poorest Nigerians is what will stand Osinbajo out from other political leaders, maybe for the foreseeable future. But among the sub-goals of the Sustainable Development Goals are the provision of social protection systems for everyone and reducing the impacts of economic and social shocks on the poor. How Nigeria, a country of 200 million people, most living in poverty, could even attempt to achieve such goals was a mystery.

Yes, the All Progressives Congress, in its campaign promises in 2015, pledged to pay N5,000 to the poorest Nigerians. A good number of people scoffed at the idea, and at a point the opposition leaders taunted the APC for not living up to its promise. Yet, the party probably did not know how to fulfil this campaign promise and it fell on Vice President Osinbajo to see it through — build a blueprint and, for a whole year, a social register of the most vulnerable and poorest Nigerians.

Two aspects of the Social Intervention Programme designed by the office of the vice president stood out: the Conditional Cash Transfer and the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme, which helped enroll and keep millions of children in school. If these did not impact the lives of the poorest Nigerians, those in rural areas, then maybe nothing governments do ever will.

Some of these programmes suffered setbacks after the outbreak of COVID-19, while independent assessments of their impact on the most vulnerable are openly available. But by the assessment of the president himself, and his late chief of staff Abba Kyari, the social intervention schemes that were conceptualised and implemented by the office of the vice president were successful enough to have carved out an entire ministry for this purpose.

In August 2019 when the Buhari government created the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, it was in part an acknowledgement of the extent of Osinbajo’s success in designing programmes to meet the needs of some of the country’s poorest and make their issues a priority of the government. The ministry has been active for two years. Its activities are less pronounced now, but for every life it has touched in those two years, we see hands of Yemi Osinbajo.

More importantly, the idea that the government, in some way, should meet the most basic needs of the poor and vulnerable citizens with social safety nets and intervention programmes is no longer up for debate. He is not the top economic expert in the government. He has seen one plan through, Now, the president has him leading the National Poverty Reduction with Growth Strategy (NPRGS), which aims to achieve the difficult task of lifting 100 million Nigerians out of poverty over the next 10 years. It is a taxing assignment that has once again seen him going back to the drawing board.

Planning diligently and laying the groundwork for success is what the vice president has shown glimpses of in the first steering committee meeting of NPRGS held in July 2021. He promised a considerable amount of paperwork and a lot of commonsense approach.

Osinbajo may not be getting credit for a lot of the work he is doing; neither is he blowing his own trumpet, even when it is politically expedient to do so. And whether his name will be remembered 10 years down the line if Nigeria succeeds in lifting millions out of poverty or not, the impact of his leadership, now and then, will be felt. That is why he is the LEADERSHIP Person of the Year 2021.

LEADERSHIP Persons Of The Year 2021
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

For raising Nigeria’s place on the global stage, leading to her selection by members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as their top trade official, despite fierce opposition from major stakeholders including world powers like the United States, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is LEADERSHIP Person of the Year 2021

On February 15, 2021, Nigeria made history when the General Council of the World Trade Organization (WTO) agreed by consensus to select Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the federal government and African candidate, as the organization’s seventh director-general. On March 1, 2021, she was sworn in as the first woman and the first African director-general of the WTO. But her journey to emerging the WTO’s helmswoman was not an easy one; it was full of twists and turns. She survived many attempts to derail her, starting from the African continent where opposition came from Egypt, Benin Republic and Kenya.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

At the global level, she faced stiff opposition from former United States president Donald Trump, who kicked against her emergence after her final challenger to the position, South Korean candidate and trade minister Yoo Myung-hee withdrew her candidature to pave way for Okonjo-Iweala’s confirmation to the office.

Nigeria’s image on the international stage once again stood tall when on October 28, 2021, General Council chair, David Walker of New Zealand, informed members that based on consultations with all delegations, Dr Okonjo-Iweala was poised to attain consensus of the 164 WTO members and that she had the deepest and the broadest support among the membership. This is even so when consideration of the credentials giving her the quality needed were on the premise that her energy, ministerial experience and political influence might provide the kind of leadership needed to shake up the beleaguered trade organisation.

Her appointment as DG of WTO is indeed historic, as she is the first female and the first African to take up the role. Her mandate began at a time the organisation was confronted with many challenges, with its negotiation and arbitration mechanisms increasingly called into question. Critics of the WTO said the organisation had fallen short on several of its core mandates, including the failure to advance new trade negotiations and adequately police unfair economic behaviour from countries. Most stakeholders consider her emergence as an important first step in overcoming these challenges. The thinking is that her track record in the Nigerian government and the World Bank, coupled with her reformist agenda, speak to her credentials to set in motion a modernising programme that can make the WTO fit for the 21st century.

A woman of many parts, Dr Okonjo-Iweala is a global finance expert, an economist and international development professional with over four decades of experience working in Asia, Africa, Europe, Latin America and North America. She had a 25-year career at the World Bank as a development economist, rising to the position of managing director where she had oversight responsibility for the World Bank’s operational portfolio in Africa, South Asia and Europe and Central Asia, spearheading several World Bank initiatives to assist low-income countries during both the food and later financial crises.

The Nigerian also chaired the replenishment of over $40 billion for the International Development Association (IDA), the grant and soft credit arm of the World Bank. In her two sojourns at the World Bank, she held the post of vice president and corporate secretary (1997-2000), working in the East Asia region during the East Asian financial crisis; two duty tours in the Middle East Region, the last (2000-2003) as Director, operations (deputy vice-president), of the region. She also served as director of institutional change and strategy (1995-1997). From 1989 to 1991, she was special assistant to the senior vice president, operations.

Her exploits at the World Bank made the administrations of President Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan invite her home where she served twice as Nigeria’s finance minister (2003–2006 and 2011–2015); she briefly acted as foreign minister in 2006, the first woman to hold both positions. She distinguished herself by carrying out major reforms which improved the effectiveness of these two ministries and the functioning of the government machinery.

As a development economist and finance minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala initiated various reforms ranging from macroeconomic to trade, financial and real sector issues in Nigeria. Her achievements as finance minister garnered international recognition for improving Nigeria’s financial stability and fostering greater fiscal transparency to combat corruption.

From July 2003 to June 2006, she served as minister of finance and economy of Nigeria and head of Nigeria’s much-acclaimed Presidential Economic Team responsible for implementing a comprehensive home-grown economic reform programme that stabilized the macro-economy and tripled the growth rate to an average 6 per cent per annum over three years.

In October 2005, she led the Nigerian team that negotiated the cancellation of 60 per cent of Nigeria’s external debt ($18 billion) with the Paris Club.  The country’s debts had dated back to the early 1980s, and had ballooned to more than $35bn due to penalties and late fees during the 1990s. The debt deal included an innovative buy-back mechanism that wiped out Nigeria’s Paris Club debt and reduced the country’s external indebtedness from $35 billion to $5 billion.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala oversaw Nigeria’s first sovereign credit rating of BB—from Fitch and Standard and Poor’s—a rating that grouped Nigeria with other emerging market countries such as Vietnam, Venezuela and the Philippines.

In her second term as finance minister, Dr Okonjo-Iweala was responsible for leading reform that enhanced transparency of government accounts and strengthened institutions against corruption, including the implementation of the GIFMS (Government Integrated Financial Management System), the IPPMS (Integrated Personnel and Payroll Management System), and the TSA (Treasury Single Accounts).

Her economic reforms had a far-reaching impact and saved Nigeria at a critical period. This included de-linking the budget from the oil price, allowing the country to save money in a special account when oil prices were high, creation of the Sovereign Wealth Fund, the National Industrial Revolution Scheme and the Automotive Policy whose implementation has led to the opening of factories for car manufacturing and assembly for the first time in the country; various job creation and job enhancement schemes for young entrepreneurs; and the creation of the NMRC and Development Bank of Nigeria.

She is a firm believer in the power of trade to lift developing countries out of poverty and assist them in achieving robust economic growth and sustainable development. As finance minister, she was involved in trade negotiations with other West African countries and contributed to the overhaul of Nigeria’s trade policy, enabling it to enhance its competitiveness. She has experience working at international governance bodies as a former managing director of the World Bank and former chair of Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI).

She was previously on the boards of Standard Chartered Plc and Twitter Inc. She was appointed as African Union (AU) special envoy to mobilise international financial support for the fight against COVID-19 and WHO special envoy for access to COVID-19 tools accelerator.

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is the founder of Nigeria’s first-ever indigenous opinion-research organization, NOI-Polls. She also founded the Centre for the Study of Economies of Africa (C-SEA), a development research think-tank based in Abuja. She is a Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Global Development, and also at the Brookings Institution, premier Washington D.C. think-tanks.

She graduated magna cum laude with an A.B. in Economics from Harvard University (1976) and earned a Ph.D. in Regional Economics and Development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1981. She has received honorary degrees from 15 universities worldwide, including from: Yale University, the University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Trinity College (University of Dublin), Amherst College, Colby College, Tel Aviv University, and Northern Caribbean University, Jamaica. She also has honorary doctorate degrees from a host of Nigerian universities including Abia State University, Delta State University, Oduduwa University, Babcock University, and the Universities of Port Harcourt, Calabar, and Ife (Obafemi Awolowo).

Dr Okonjo-Iweala has been listed as Minister of the Decade, People’s Choice Award, by Nigeria’s ThisDay newspaper (2020), one of Transparency International’s 8 Female Anti-Corruption Fighters Who Inspire (2019), one of the 50 Greatest World Leaders (Fortune, 2015), the Top 100 Most Influential People in the World (TIME, 2014), the Top 100 Global Thinkers (Foreign Policy, 2011 and 2012), the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World (Forbes, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014), the Top 3 Most Powerful Women in Africa (Forbes, 2012), the Top 10 Most Influential Women in Africa (Forbes, 2011), the Top 100 Women in the World (The UK Guardian, 2011), the Top 150 Women in the World (Newsweek, 2011), and the Top 100 most inspiring people in the World Delivering for Girls and Women (Women Deliver, 2011). She has also been listed among 73 “brilliant” business influencers in the world by Condé Nast International.

In 2020, she became an Angelopoulos Global Public Leader at Harvard University Kennedy School. She was also appointed to the Presidential Economic Advisory Council (PEAC) for President of South Africa His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa. In 2019, Dr Okonjo-Iweala was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2017, she received the Madeleine K. Albright Global Development Award from the Aspen Institute, the Women’s Economic Empowerment Award from WEConnect International, and the Vanguard Award from Howard University.

LEADERSHIP Governors Of The Year 2021

For providing exceptional leadership at a time the people of their states were in dire need of social leadership, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State and Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State are LEADERSHIP Governors of the year 2021.

LEADERSHIP Governor Of The Year 2021
Udom Emmanuel

For his relentless drive to diversify Akwa Ibom State’s economy through various targeted investments, especially through agribusiness, Ibom Air and Ibom Deep Seaport, Udom Gabriel Emmanuel is LEADERSHIP Governor of the Year 2021

In the last six years that Governor Udom Emmanuel has been the chief executive of Akwa Ibom State, one of the nine oil-producing states in the Niger Delta region, things have been looking up in the state. It is evident that the governor’s solid private- and public-sector experiences are positively impacting governance in Akwa Ibom. Before he became governor, he had had a sterling banking career. And he later served as secretary to the state government (SSG) in the administration of his predecessor, Godswill Akpabio.

The need for states to develop other streams of income rather than go cap in hand to Abuja every time for the ever-dwindling federal allocations has been canvassed in many fora, and Governor Udom Emmanuel has risen up to the challenge: he has taken strategic steps to diversify the state’s economy and project present and future economic prosperity for the state and its citizens through strategic investments, value addition and job creation.

One sector the governor took on with passionate attention is the agriculture sector. And he led from the front. He established a large hybrid rubber nursery at Ebighi Anwa in Okobo local government area of the state in partnership with the Rubber Research Institute of Nigeria and also renovated a cassava processing factory at Ikot Okudom, situated in Eket.

The state government also procured and distributed 30, 000 hybrid plantation suckers to 700 farmers across the state, just as it installed a maize preservation and shelling machine at Nung Udoe. He spearheaded the state’s campaign for the planting of hundreds of citrus seedlings.

He also installed the St. Gabriel Coconut Oil Refinery located in Mkat Enin, with capacity to refine one million nuts per day through three work shifts. The refinery, when fully operational, will provide 1, 300 direct jobs and engage more than 5,000 indirect workers through various suppliers and off-takers of the finished products of the company.

Coconut oil is more valuable than crude oil in the international market; it can be processed into over 50 products, especially beverages and confectionary.

The governor also built the Akwa Ibom traders’ ultra-modern market made up of 25, 000 shops, easily one of the biggest markets in Africa. That done, youths spread across the 31 local government areas were trained on maintenance and installation of solar panels. As a big player in the banking world before his foray into partisan politics, Udom Emmanuel knew a thing or two about unemployment and its attendant role in the social upheavals bedeviling the Nigerian society.

To combat unemployment, the governor in his first stint in office provided a N2 billion interest-free loans to small scale entrepreneurs and traders, many of whom are employers of labour today.

Not a man to blow his own trumpet, Governor Emmanuel has his massive footprints in infrastructural development. On his watch, the state government dualised the 19.5km Eket-Ebeno road and the 12.72km Awa-Iman-Asong-Ikot-Emem road even as it completed the emergency rehabilitation of Okopedi road. The 6.1 km Atam-Offot road, located in Uyo LGA, the 4.6 km School of Arts and Science road in Nung Ukim, the 5.1 km internal roads in the state-owned university, Obio Akpa, as well as the construction of gully erosion facilities along the Oron/Isangedihi road are a few of the roads he built.

He also reconstructed the General Hospital, Ikot Ekpene (phase 1),  remodelled and reequipped Awa General Hospital, completed 25km Uyo-Ikot Ekpene road, Nto Edino/Ekwereazu twin bridges, Ikot Oku Ikono flyover, internal roads in Ikot Akpabin, a medical gas and vacuum plant in Ituk Mbang, 13.2km Nkana–Awa Iman road, and a host of other roads in Oron LGA.

The governor built 168 houses at 6th Battalion Army Barracks, Ibagwa, in Abak LGA, to celebrate Nigeria at 60, among other projects.

In his second term, the governor focused on industrialisation, aviation development, rural and riverine areas development, agriculture, human capacity development, security, infrastructure and small and medium-scale enterprises.

In this wise two impressive projects have come to fruition: the Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company, JSM, located in Onna LGA, and the Metering Solutions Manufacturing Services Limited, both established by the Udom Emmanuel administration, are up and running.

The Jubilee Syringe Manufacturing Company is the biggest syringe manufacturing company in the entire African continent with a production capacity of 350 million metric tonnes a year. The company has already earned the International Organisation for Standardisation certificate after meeting the necessary requirements.

The Metering Solutions Manufacturing Services Limited has been in operation since 2019 and has the capacity to produce 1.2 million electricity metres annually. It will go a long way to satisfy the increasing demand for metres by electricity consumers in the country.  These two firms are helping to reduce the unemployment rate in the state.

The Udom Emmanuel administration has also built the tallest building in the entire South-South region — the 21-storey Dakkada Tower situated in the Central Business District of Uyo.  The investment building, a flagship project of the governor, is designed to provide rented office accommodation for banks, international oil companies, world-class corporate organisations and cafe/restaurants, etc.

In his continued drive to expand the state’s income base, the governor established St. Gabriel Coconut Oil Refinery located in Mkat Enin with the capacity to refine one million nuts per day through three work shifts. When fully operational, it will provide 1, 300 direct jobs and more than 5,000 indirect workers through various suppliers and off-takers of the finished products of the company.

Through the state government’s My Entrepreneurship Goals Programme (MEGP), about 1,000 entrepreneurs have been trained in a programme designed to equip new and existing entrepreneurs with the basic trade and business tools to help them in making the right decisions for their businesses.

A signature investment of the Udom Emmanuel administration is Ibom Air which has been in operation since 2019. The airline has a fleet of seven bombardier CRJ 900 aircraft and covers six destinations – Uyo, Lagos, Abuja, Calabar, Enugu and Port Harcourt. What is even more exciting is that over 200 Akwa Ibomites are engaged in the entire aviation value chain, including those working as pilots, cabin crew and in aircraft maintenance engineering. The airline recorded its one-millionth passenger this year.

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The vision is not to restrict the airline to the Nigerian airspace but to turn it into a regional airline business. The state government had already commenced negotiations with the Gambian government for possible operations of Ibom Air in that West African nation.

Having taken delivery of two brand new A220 300 series Airbuses for use for regional flight, the airline has plans for another 10 airbuses to further swell its fleet for national and international operations.

Another signature investment project of the Udom Emmanuel administration is the Akwa Ibom Deep Seaport. The $4.2bn port facility can hold over 13,000 containers at one time and serve as transshipment for smaller vessels.

The project will create 300,000 jobs in the state in its first phase.

According to the governor, “The Ibom Deep Seaport will help complement other ports and enhance our maritime industry by easing the burdens experienced by importers and exporters in Lagos, and other logistics challenges such as the perennial gridlock in Apapa.

“The vision of the Ibom Deep Seaport is to add to the port capacity of the Nigerian Ports and overall maritime development. The opening of more ports will provide employment to thousands of our youths in such areas as logistics and general maritime services.”

In undertaking projects in the state and in all the other investments, Governor Udom always adopted the deliberate policy of engaging indigenous contractors and workers, thus creating wealth for the people of the state.

LEADERSHIP Governor Of The Year 2021
Alhaji Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya

For repositioning Gombe State on the path of sustainable economic growth, rebuilding the state’s decrepit infrastructure, constructing roads with spread across the state, providing job opportunities for youths and women as well as empowering his people with his agricultural transformation agenda, Muhammad Inuwa Yahaya is LEADERSHIP Governor of the Year 2021

When he assumed office on May 29, 2019, Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya (Dan Majen Gombe) was not new to the challenges facing the now 25-year-old state, having meritoriously served as the state’s commissioner for finance. He left no one in doubt that he already had his job well cut out for him: to propel Gombe State towards the path of rapid development. The accountant and pragmatic leader was burning in an unquenchable desire to deliver on his campaign promises.

And true to the people’s hopes, the governor has not disappointed them. Governor Yahaya has brought his vision, passion, humanity, pedigree, and above all his dexterity and Midas touch to bear on governance in the state’s socio-economic landscape. Across the 11 local government areas of the state, there is a congruence of opinion that he is indeed the right man for the job. He has so far met the expectations of the people through his visionary leadership. Within two and half years of his being in office, even his staunch critics would not hesitate to disavow their rather ill-informed criticisms of the Gombe State government on his watch.

The Yahaya administration developed and launched the Gombe State 10-Year Development Plan (GSDP 2021-2030), the first in Nigeria, as a long-term vision for growth and sustainable development. His target was to draw every development plan from the carefully crafted blueprint to chart the way in line with the visions and missions of making the state attractive and an economic hub in the North-East. Governor Yahaya centred his development agenda on five strategic pillars, namely: Governance and Administration, Social development, Economic Development, Infrastructural Development and Sustainable Environment.

The plan, essentially, has a wide range of underlying activities that border on the greater good of the people as government performs its duties within some basic institutional framework detailing the policy thrust, policy target and policy objectives and overall betterment of the people. Governor Yahaya noted during the launch that the plan has “inclusive strategies to empower our people”, adding that “the decision to develop the plan is a clear indication of our determination to have lasting legacies for succeeding generations of our people”. Pointedly, the scope of the plan aligns with the United Nations’ SDGs to tackle the challenge of poverty and underdevelopment.

It didn’t come as a surprise to keen observers of events in Gombe State when the state was ranked No. 1 in the ease of doing business in Nigeria by the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. In achieving this, the governor institutionalised the notion of partnership, knowing full well that bringing development to the state requires forging partnerships with various government agencies and institutions locally and abroad. The cumulative effect of Governor Yahaya’s prudence, leadership character and credibility is the coming of various development partners to the state, and the results are so far remarkable. Gombe is now the best state in the ease of doing business in Nigeria and has been adjudged the safest and most peaceful state in the North-East geopolitical zone of the country.

From agriculture, health, education to the remodeling mentality of creating an enabling environment and instituting clear-headed policies in line with the required development goals, Governor Yahaya has mapped out informed key policies and programmes in these major sectors.

Governor Yahaya has continued to point the way forward and raise the bar, quietly challenging leaders at all tiers of government to realize the difference that vision, creativity, focus and persistence can make in the life of a state. In every part of Gombe State, the mark of good governance is all too striking: road construction with zonal spread, reengineered schools, rehabilitated and well-equipped hospitals, economic empowerment and agricultural transformation.

Mindful of the fact that a good network of roads is critical to the economic revival and development of a state like Gombe, which is an agrarian state, Governor Yahaya embarked on execution of road projects as part of efforts to industrialise the state. A sight to behold now is a new Gombe where the various parts are well linked up via good roads, starting from the initial Network 11-100 Project (100 kilometres of road in each of the 11 local government areas) to the mega revolution in the construction of over 150 other strategic roads across the state. The people of Gombe who use these roads in their daily activities have attested to the fact that road construction and rehabilitation is indeed an initiative that is relative to their economic value.

The health sector which hitherto was terribly neglected by the previous administration is now enjoying better funding, adequate facilities and programmes for the people’s good health. Apart from the state-of-the-art Specialist Hospital in the state, this crucial sector has been given a new lease of life as witnessed in the various cottage hospitals, general hospitals, state primary health care programme and the revitalization of at least one primary health centre in each of the 114 wards and of course the introduction of the State Contributory Healthcare Management Agency which has improved access to healthcare in the state. All these contributed to rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the state which ensured Gombe had one of the least incidence and fatality throughout the country.

On Governor Yahaya’s watch, agriculture which is the mainstay of the state has benefited from the state government’s proactive management through generous funding, contrary to what obtained in the past. Farmers have benefited tremendously from the state’s procurement and distribution of subsidized fertilizers to farmers. The state government has also built research centres and adopted modern techniques to increase yields and productivity in both animal production and fisheries.

Also, rural development and challenge of environmental degradation have been well-addressed through the provision of diversified infrastructure and the hugely successful tree-planting project to reclaim and protect the devastated northern region of the state. In addition to this is the provision of water, a major issue in the state before Governor Yahaya came on board.

Two other areas of the far-reaching reforms that represent major achievements of the Yahaya administration are the civil service and economic reforms. While the former has ensured an invigorated and high-performing bureaucracy, the latter has led to a repositioning of the economy to properly tackle the challenge of underdevelopment in the state.

Also, the education sector, one of the governor’s major concerns, was in a shambles at inception of the Yahaya administration. This necessitated a pragmatic reevaluation and renewal through basic reforms that have since birthed a modern system with huge enrolment in the primary and secondary education cadre.

Currently, Gombe has been getting good results, especially from the external examinations. This is the culmination of a declaration of emergency in education in the state at the outset. It is the outcome of a holistic reform which took into account the urgent need to build modern and conducive classrooms and boarding schools across the state as well as instituting a system that brings in only qualified teachers.

Governor Yahaya also undertook the major task of taking the hundreds of thousands of Almajiris out of the streets and taking them into established formal settings. Girl-child education has equally received a boost. Education is one of the key issues in the reform process and has remained a bold achievement of the Yahaya administration in the last two and a half years.

LEADERSHIP Governor Of The Year 2021
Bala Mohammed

For his ability to keep his state safe and secure in the midst of rising insecurity in the North; for introducing policies and programmes to ensure that Bauchi State is spared the gory tales emanating from the nefarious activities of terrorists and bandits, including home-grown security solutions, youth empowerment and infrastructural development, Bala Mohammed is LEADERSHIP Governor of the Year 2021   

The primary role of government is protection of life and property. In Nigeria, however, this primary responsibility has seemed herculean: most governments seem unable to fulfil this mandate especially in the North where insecurity has become endemic. It is common to hear of banditry and terror attacks in almost all states in the North, but not in Bala Mohammed’s Bauchi. The governor, rather than throw up his hands in the air and wait for the federal government, developed a home-grown solution that has served the state well and warded off marauders from wreaking havoc on his compatriots. The secret? He assembled and registered 10,000 hunters from across the state’s 20 local government areas to help other security agencies in fighting banditry, kidnapping and other crimes in the state.

This programme achieves two things: apart from tackling criminals, it is also providing youths with employment to reduce restiveness. For, as the saying goes, the idle brain is the devil’s workshop.

Working in collaboration with security agencies, the registered hunters carry out routine patrols in every nook and cranny of the state and dislodge suspected bandits’ camps in the bush. In this way, the people of Bauchi are

largely spared attacks, intimidation, or harassment by criminal gangs.

The hunters not only provide intelligence to security agencies, they engage with and chase off the suspected bandits from their camps, arrest them and hand them to the security forces.

While other governors are still awaiting the outcome of the debate over the contentious issue of state police, the Bauchi governor has installed a community policing system that has made Bauchi arguably the safest state in the insecurity-endemic region.

For his part, Governor Bala Mohammed has continually supported the vigilante group with the necessary incentives, tools and logistics to facilitate their work of keeping Bauchi safe.

The governor started a youth empowerment programme for 20,000 youths across all the LGAs of the state as part of his administration’s effort to end restiveness and thuggery in the state. The governor also distributed 1,000 commercial tricycles (Keke) as well as 251 buses to youths in the states. All these are targeted at keeping them engaged in productive activities.

Governor Bala Mohammed is one person who understands very well that investing in education is investing in the future. And that is why he gives special attention to the sector. While many governors fail to access UBEC funding for primary schools due to the counterpart funding requirement, the Bauchi governor secured N5bn from UBEC.

The Bala administration built 12 new day secondary schools, and approved 16 new primary schools for Bauchi metropolis, among others.

Some of his laudable policies and innovations in the sector include conversion of boarding schools to merit schools, zero-hunger policy in boarding schools, harmonised scheme of work, dual school system where boarding schools host day students as well, admission based strictly on merit, adoption of phonics, reclaiming of public schools from private users, performance-based promotion of staff, reward and punishment, centralised admissions into schools, etc., payment of JAMB registration for 3,812 SS3 students, intensive inspection of schools, payment of all outstanding WAEC debts, payment of all outstanding regular scholarship allowances, establishment of database on schools, staff and students, Manual and biometric capturing of staff punctuality, acquisition of equipment of new chalk factory and training of staff

On environmental management, Governor Bala Mohammed launched a special environmental sanitation exercise in Bauchi as part of his administration’s effort to keep the state clean. There was disinfection of wells, the first time it was done in the state, to fight vectors of malaria and other diseases. And as part of his administration’s commitment to tackle environmental challenges — drought, desertification, erosion and floods etc. — the governor flagged off a tree-planting campaign with the theme “Planting For Reclamation Programme”, to reverse environmental degradation.

In the health sector, Governor Bala Mohammed, in collaboration with SDGs, donated six ambulances to the General Hospital, Darazo; Garin N’a Allah PHC Centre, Gobiya PHC, Udubo Maternity, and Mashema PHC to ease the transportation of patients from rural areas to the cities.

To shore up the funding for health, he also approved a standing order for the release of monthly 5 per  cent of internally generated revenue and 1 per cent of all Local Government Area Subvention of Bauchi State Health Trust Fund.

This is in addition to the construction and renovation of primary health centres and other health facilities in the state.

The Bala Mohammed administration has also left indelible footprints in the infrastructural development of Bauchi State. The projects include the N8 billion road linking Alkaleri and Tafawa Balewa LGAs of Bauchi, which benefit about eight communities from Yalwan Duguri to Badaran Dutse, Birim-Bajama to Kumbala, and Kundak Wurno to Burga villages

The governor has also embarked on roads construction in Bauchi town at a cost of N5 billion. The roads include Muda Lawan market road dual carriage, Sabon Kaura–Jos road, Miri village on Jos road, Dass link road by ATBU and Gombe road connecting Maiduguri road.

Aside from that, the government has awarded contracts for 16 projects through the Bauchi State office of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of its development projects in some rural areas of the state.

The 16 projects include comprehensive renovation of Yalwa Practising School in Bauchi local government, Tagwaje Primary School in Darazo local government, Central Primary School, Azare in Katagum local government, and procurement of classroom furniture for Yalwa Practising School in Bauchi and Central Primary School, Azare, all in Katagum local government area.

Other projects are construction of primary health centres in Mansur village, Alkaleri LGA; Dunkurmi, Misau LGA; Yadure, Giade LGA; and rehabilitation of others in Dambam, Itas Gadau and Jama’are local government areas.

Some other projects executed by the governor are the construction of two roads worth N1billion in Azare — General Hospital Road to Jama’are, Azare bypass, and Tafawa Balewa Road to Jama’are, and Shira roads in Azare as part of the urban renewal by the administration, and N3billion road for Sade to Akuyam road linking Darazo and Misau LGAs.

While many governors seem to relent in their second term, Bala Mohammed shows no sign of slowing down. In the last two years, the governor has recorded over 100 projects and programmes, most of them completed. They include construction/renovation/dualisation of over 50 roads, six electrification projects in six local government areas, construction/renovation of over 10 primary schools and 10 health facilities, mostly primary health centres. Also, about seven palaces were renovated. He also provided 50 operational vehicles to the security agencies in the state, among other interventions.

LEADERSHIP Politician Of The Year 2021

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

For bouncing back and continuing to rise from adversity to retain a firm grip of the political terrain, despite hasty conclusions in some quarters that his power and influence in the governing party has diminished, Bola Ahmed Tinubu is LEADERSHIP Politician of the Year 2021

Just when you think the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is losing steam, he astounds even his fiercest critics. His house is now a Mecca of a sort for politicians – he is apparently the go-to man after the president. Many have continued to wonder how Tinubu has been able to wield so much political power and influence since leaving office as Lagos State governor as far back as 2007. While a majority of his colleagues that were governors from 1999 to 2007 have been “dead” politically, Tinubu has continued to wax stronger and stronger.

Bola Ahmed Tinubu

Tinubu was one of the major factors and the game-changer in President Muhammadu Buhari winning the 2015 presidential election. Before 2015, President Buhari did not win a single ward in southern Nigeria. The Tinubu political machinery in the South-West made it possible for him to clinch the presidency at the fourth attempt.

In 2021 Tinubu has left no one in doubt that he is versed in Robert Greene’s 48 Laws of Power and skilled in politics. His political genius is unmistakable.

Tinubu spent the better part of this year in the United Kingdom to have knee surgery. Surprisingly, President Buhari who was also in the United Kingdom at the same time visited Tinubu at his London home. The visit sparked a flurry of visits from governors, lawmakers, entertainers, and top government officials. His London home became a Mecca as politicians fell over each other to visit Tinubu and have photo ops with him.

Even governors and former governors who were in rival political camps with him hurried to London to boost their ratings. Amid his rumoured presidential ambition, there is a school of thought that his medical vacation in London would knock him off the perch; rather, it has strengthened his political grasp.

Tinubu’s triumphant return from London was all lights, camera, and action as he was received at the airport by Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and members of his cabinet. On his return, those who could not go to London, including Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, went to his home.

The show of attention and adulation while abroad and on his return by those considered the crème de la crème of society, either in politics or in the business world, is a pointer to the mettle of the Jagaban Borgu. He makes men; he shows those who never thought they could attain certain heights that anything is possible when they make efforts. Many of the people deciding the fate of Nigeria today took their political tutelage from the man Tinubu at some point, while many others just received sheer lift, financially or otherwise, from him to make their life dreams come true.

No doubt, the two leading figures in the APC are President Buhari and Tinubu, and events have shown in recent weeks that it’s going to continue like that in the foreseeable future.

Love or hate him, Tinubu proved his political clout by having the president, vice president, speaker of the House of Representatives and governors visit him following his illness. He deftly turned weakness into strength.

LEADERSHIP Politician Of The Year 2021

Aminu Waziri Tambuwal

For wriggling the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) out of a leadership crisis that could have ruined it a few months to the electioneering season, deploying his sagacity and leadership qualities to bear in piloting the affairs of the most powerful bloc within the party, the PDP Governors’ Forum, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State is LEADERSHIP Politician of the Year 2021  

In the last decade, Sokoto State governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal has grown to become one of the influential figures in Nigeria’s political space. And it is for a reason: his political astuteness, dexterity and pragmatism have served him well. This year, he has displayed such habitual qualities as a key figure who helped in galvanizing his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), steering it away from the brink of implosion following a nail-biting change of the party’s leadership.

Many had feared the worst might happen to the main opposition party in the country, especially when it seemed as if it was tottering back to a familiar but inglorious past of long-drawn legal and political battles that almost killed it in 2016. The sack of the Prince Uche Secondus-led National Working Committee (NWC) before the end of its tenure attracted a lot of backlash.

Not a few political watchers anticipated a major crisis, with the governors who are the most influential bloc within the party slightly divided on the matter. At this stage, how the governors managed their internal affairs was significantly important to the resolution of the crisis. What’s more, it was essential that they win the confidence of other critical party stakeholders in order to ensure that the party retains its uniting value. This required a distinct mix of empathy and painstaking negotiations, the type that should ensure that if the party didn’t become more united, it however shouldn’t be more broken. Clearly, the PDP was as much in need of advancing its fortune as it was in damage control mode.

Naturally, such responsibility fell on the laps of the leader of the party’s governors’ forum, Tambuwal, whom his colleagues and other party stakeholders looked up to to coordinate such a delicate process. All eyes were on the PDP Governors’ Forum chairman, scrutinising his every move, especially as his rumored presidential ambition had become widespread.

But after weeks of painstaking negotiations to ensure that the party retains its uniting value as best it can, the PDP held its national convention, producing a new leadership largely based on consensus arrangement. Although many would think that the outcome was more of a collective credit to the governors, there is no disputing the fact that Tambuwal was picked by his equals to lead them because of such a time when what just happened in the party was anticipated — a time that required clear, level-headed leadership, devoid of hubris, to manage the big egos of his colleagues, which eventually restored calm after the storm.

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Beyond his years of experience at handling political crises as was seen in his days as speaker of the House of Representatives, Tambuwal’s ability to win and retain the confidence of his colleagues and other stakeholders in a political setting where loyalty is fluid attests to a good dose of brilliance and political sagacity.

Born January 10, 1966, Tambuwal has been governor of Sokoto State since the 2015 general election. He contested the 2019 presidential primary of the PDP but lost. He was however re-elected governor in the 2019 general election. He served as the 10th speaker of the House of Representatives, while representing the Tambuwal/Kebbe Federal Constituency of Sokoto State.

He attended Tambuwal Primary School, Tambuwal, Sokoto State, where he obtained his First School Leaving Certificate in 1979, and Government Teachers’ College, Dogon-Daji, where he obtained the Teachers Grade 11 Certificate in 1984. He then proceeded to Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto, where he studied Law, graduating with an LLB (Hons) degree in 1991.

He completed his one-year compulsory legal studies at the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, obtaining his BL before he was called to the Bar in 1992.

Apart from studying for his Law degree, he attended several courses abroad, among which are the following: Telecoms Regulatory Master Class – Bath UK, 2004; Lawmaking for the Communications Sectors – BMIT, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2004; Regulating a Competitive Industry — UK, Brussels, 2005; Tulane University – International Legislative Drafting, 2005; Stanford Graduate School of Business – Influence and Negotiation, 2008; and KSG Harvard – Infrastructure in Market Economy, 2009.

Tambuwal started learning the legislative ropes from 1999 to 2000, while working as personal assistant on Legislative Affairs to Senator Abdullahi Wali, the then Senate leader. In 2003, he decided to run for a legislative seat as representative of the Kebbe/Tambuwal Federal Constituency. He was elected into the House of Representatives on the platform of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).

A few months before the 2007 general election, he joined the DPP alongside former governor of Sokoto State Attahiru Bafarawa. But when the DPP denied return tickets to former ANPP legislators, Tambuwal returned to the ANPP where he eventually succeeded in picking up a ticket for the election. He however returned to PDP when the ANPP governorship candidate for Sokoto State in the 2007 election, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, joined the PDP.

Tambuwal held several offices in the House. In 2005, he became the minority leader until he defected to the PDP. Upon his re-election to the House in 2007, he was also elected deputy chief whip. At various times, he was a member of several committees, including the House committees on Rules & Business, Communications, Judiciary, Inter-Parliamentary and Water Resources. He was also a member of the House Ad hoc Committee on Constitution Review.

He was chairman of the ad hoc committee that reviewed the report of the controversial power probe committee headed by Ndudi Elumelu; chairman, House sub-committee on the Bill for an Act to Amend the Land Use Act; and acting chairman, House Committee on Power. He was leader of the Nigerian delegation to African, Caribbean, Pacific & European Union Parliamentary Assembly (ACP-EU) and served as vice chairman, Economic Committee ACP-EU, held in Prague, Czech Republic, in April 2009.

On October 28, 2014, Tambuwal formally defected from the ruling PDP to the opposition APC; a few days later, his security details were withdrawn by the inspector-general of police, a move that was criticised by Nigerians as being barbaric and undemocratic. On April 11, 2015, Tambuwal contested and won the governorship election of Sokoto State. He was inaugurated on May 29, 2015. On August 1, 2018, Tambuwal defected from the APC back to the PDP.

LEADERSHIP Social Impact Person of the Year 2021

Chinedu Munir Nwoko

For devoting his time, energy and financial resources to eradication of malaria, the disease that has continued to kill thousands of children and pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa, Hon. Chinedu Munir Nwoko is LEADERSHIP Social Impact Person of the Year 2021

If the life-threatening acute febrile disease called malaria were to be a crime syndicate or a loose affiliation of gangsters who have been evading arrest, then it would have met its match in Prince Ned Munir Nwoko – something resembling the 1986 crime action movie, Stallone Cobra, with the slogan “Crime is a disease; meet the cure”.  The thinking is that, since malaria is preventable, it is crime against humanity to allow women and children to die of the disease.

Nwoko, the chairman of Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation (PNNF), has his eyes fixed on eradicating malaria in Nigeria and Africa. Like cannons overcharged with double cracks, he has to a greater extent demonstrated uncommon commitment to tackling the health scourge.

The lawyer, politician, philanthropist and business mogul believes that the nation and the continent must rather focus on total eradication as opposed to mere treatment and control. Like other well-meaning Nigerians, Ned had been disturbed by the alarming statistics which showed that the African region accounted for 94 per cent of all malaria cases and deaths worldwide, as well as a recent WHO statistics showing that six African countries accounted for approximately half of all malaria deaths globally.

According to the WHO report, Nigeria accounted for 24 per cent, the Democratic Republic of the Congo 11 per cent, United Republic of Tanzania 5 per cent, while Burkina Faso, Mozambique and Niger accounted for 4 per cent each.

The 2019 World Malaria Report rates Nigeria as having the highest number of annual global malaria cases accounting for 25 per cent of 229 million cases and accounting for the highest number of deaths, 24 per cent of 409,000 worldwide annual malaria deaths.

Nwoko is a man of abiding passion whose major goal is to reverse the ugly trend in Nigeria and Africa, hence his decision to focus on malaria eradication. To achieve this overarching desire, the former member of the House of Representatives unveiled the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation Malaria Eradication in Africa Project (PNNF-MEAP) with the central aim of working and collaborating with appropriate multilateral agencies, organizations, companies, governments and individuals to ensure a malaria-free Nigeria.

Through PNNF, Nwoko engaged in intensive campaign. In 2021, the foundation sought and obtained approval from the Federal Ministry of Health to support and coordinate a national response towards malaria eradication involving strategic partnerships for the deployment of the premier malaria vaccine RTS,S in Nigeria.

The approval was the culmination of relentless advocacies of the PNNF towards achieving its objective of permanently ridding Nigeria and Africa of malaria. The foundation’s cardinal delivery plans cover supporting or investing in development of anti-malaria vaccine, environmental sanitation, waste recycling, indoor residual spray and fumigation. The foundation’s Malaria Eradication Project received a boost with the approval of the RTS,S malaria vaccine implementation in endemic countries by the World Health Organization (WHO). The minister of health also approved the vaccine’s implementation in Nigeria based on the framework submitted by the Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation’s Malaria Eradication Project.

Between March 18 and 19, 2021, the PNNF invited the RTS,S vaccine experts and other malaria specialists to a two-day workshop on developing a concept note and proposal to the Federal Ministry of Health for the foundation to lead in the deployment of RTS,S in Nigeria

On July 27, 2021, the minister of health, in a letter addressed to Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation, approved the foundation’s proposal to lead in the rollout of the RTS,S vaccine in Nigeria. In September 2021, the PNNF co-hosted a virtual sideline event tagged Global Action For a Malaria Free Africa (GAMFA 2021) during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), with the panel discussion moderated from New York by the national coordinator of the Ned Nwoko Malaria Project, Chukwuebuka Anyaduba.

The foundation initiated the process of having a bill for malaria eradication sponsored and passed at the National Assembly. This followed a series of meetings between members of the foundation and the leadership of the National Assembly as well as the relevant chairmen of Senate and House committees on Health and Environment.

A former member of the House of Representatives and a serial entrepreneur, Ned Nwoko is passionate about advancing the cause of humanity.  With mission and vision to eradicate malaria through the PNNF, he has deployed enormous resources to the malaria eradication programme.

LEADERSHIP banker Of The Year 2021

Dr Adesola Adeduntan

For turning the situation around in a bank that was wallowing in bad debts, introducing various innovations that took banking solutions to unserved hinterlands, thereby creating hundreds of thousands of jobs through agency banking, Dr Adeshola Adeduntan is LEADERSHIP Banker of the Year 2021

adesola adeduntan

Dr Adesola Kazeem Adeduntan became the managing director and chief executive of First Bank Nigeria Limited, Nigeria’s oldest bank and a systemically important bank (SIB), on January 1, 2016, taking the baton from Bisi Onasanya.

His six-year tenure at the bank has not only seen major milestones for the institution but has also been an eventful one in the history of the bank. Adeduntan’s career in the banking industry started at the defunct Afribank Nigeria Plc (now acquired by Skye Bank) as a graduate trainee where he worked mainly in banking operations.

He moved on to become manager at Arthur Andersen Nigeria and senior manager at KPMG.  He had served as a senior vice president and chief financial officer at Citibank Nigeria Limited and was a director and the pioneer chief financial officer/business manager of Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) before he joined First Bank of Nigeria in 2014 as executive director and chief financial officer.

Of note is his ability to survive boardroom drama that saw him removed from his post as helmsman of the bank and his return just hours afterwards. He had been removed by the board of the bank for no just cause but was reinstated by the CBN governor, who was convinced that Adeduntan had been able to bring stability to the bank.

At the time he came on board as managing director, First Bank was on the verge of collapse with a non performing loan level of more than 18 per cent, way higher than the regulatory 5 per cent, and the bank, at the end of the 2016 financial year, had made a provision for bad loans of up to N226.03 billion, leaving it with a profit of just N12.2 billion.

However, by the end of the 2020 financial year, the bank’s provisioning for bad loans had dropped to N50.5 billion with profits rising to over N75 billion; nonperforming loans (NPLs) declined to less than 8 per cent.

The bank’s drive for financial inclusion under his leadership cannot go unrecognised as it now has the largest agency banking network in the country with over 105,000 Firstmonie agents located across 772 out of the 774 local government areas and the Federal Capital Territory in Nigeria.

Aside creating over 300,000 indirect jobs in the last four years, the Firstmonie agency banking network services over one million unique customers daily, taking banking services to where conventional banks could not reach. Recently under the leadership of Adeduntan, the bank disbursed N100 million in loans though the agency banking network.

Adeduntan has also been able to drive funding as well as capacity building towards small businesses in the country with the First Bank SMEConnect which not only opens up funding but also connects small business owners with mentors, customers, and suppliers while providing adequate business training.


Before the appointment of Brig. Gen Mohammed Buba Marwa as the chairman and chief executive officer of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the agency was waiting for its final rites. With increasing rise in the use of drugs and psychoactive substances among youths, most especially females, not a few Nigerians were of the view that the agency should be scrapped.

Established by Decree 48 of 1989, the federal government agency is charged with eliminating the growing, processing, manufacturing, selling, exporting and trafficking of hard drugs. But at a point, it seemed as if the menace of drug abuse in Nigeria was far from being eradicated, as the establishment of the agency did not help matters. Over the years, NDLEA had been involved in various scandals that affected its operations, among them corruption, collecting of gratification from drug traffickers, pilfering of seized drugs, military interference in the agency and poor funding. Indeed, the agency was plagued by funding difficulties. Even after the establishment of the agency, drug trafficking continued unabated, leading to the decertification of Nigeria by the United States of America. The country was decertified for failing in its drug control efforts and severe sanctions were imposed.

But with a new management in place, following the appointment of Marwa, a retired army general, Nigerians are now seeing a reinvigorated agency which has taken the war against illicit drugs a notch higher. The NDLEA has recorded major wins this year alone. The value of cash and drugs seized since Marwa came on board is put at over N90 billion. Over 2,180 traffickers, including five drug barons controlling different cartels across Nigeria, have been arrested. Also, a record 2.05 million kilogrammes of drugs have been intercepted and seized across the country, and 2,100 drug offenders prosecuted with 500 jailed by courts. This is massive.

NDLEA has also taken the campaign against drug abuse to schools. The agency has insisted vehemently that parents should test their prospective sons-in-law for drugs before giving out their daughters in marriage, even as it is pushing to make it mandatory for politicians seeking public office and students seeking admission into higher institutions to undergo drug tests.

Maintaining the agency’s ground on this, Marwa has said that, as elections come up in the states and across the country, there is the need for the people to entrust the management of their treasury and their wellbeing in the hands of politicians that have clear minds, because no public officeholder under the influence of drugs can think straight. He said the same thing applies to students seeking admission into higher institutions. He said because of the evidence-based strong nexus between drug abuse and security challenges across the country, concerted efforts must be made towards tackling the drug scourge headlong

The war against illicit drugs is also directly related to the war against insecurity, for illicit substances are enablers of insecurity currently plaguing the country. President Muhammadu Buhari captured it succinctly when he contended that the danger posed to the country by illicit drugs is worse than those posed by insurgency and banditry.

Daily, Nigerians are inundated with reports of activities of the NDLEA. This is highly commendable. Currently, there is a paradigm shift in its approach to controlled substances. In the past months, operatives of the agency nationwide have carried out a non-stop offensive against drug trafficking, traffickers and abusers in line with its objective of having a drug-free Nigeria. Most stakeholders are of the view that, with the manner in which the NDLEA is going about its drug eradicating activities, it may shut down the drug pipeline, cancel out the drug demand-drug supply equation and mop up the cache of illicit substances in the country in no distant future.

Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu

For grooming a generation of African entrepreneurs through the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) and subsequently catalysing economic growth, driving poverty, eradicating and ensuring job creation on the continent, Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is LEADERSHIP Business Person of the Year 2021

Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF)

Elumelu is one of Nigeria’s well-known actors in the private sector. A consummate businessman and boardroom player who believes in not just working hard but also working smart, he grew from a humble beginning as a copier salesman to one of the best-known business names in Nigeria and, indeed, in Africa.

Through his Foundation, The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Tony, as he is fondly called by peers, is acting on his firm belief that the private sector’s role is critical for Africa’s development. This, he insists, is hinged on the economic philosophy of Africapitalism which simply translates to the doctrine that “the African private sector has the power to transform the continent through long-term investments, creating both economic prosperity and social wealth”.

In 2015, Elumelu committed $100 million to create 10,000 entrepreneurs across Africa over a period of 10 years through the Tony Elumelu Foundation Entrepreneurship Programme, a pan-African entrepreneurship initiative designed to empower African entrepreneurs through a multi-year programme of training, funding and mentoring.

In this regard, TEF has empowered in excess of 10,898 young Africans to feel sufficiently challenged to take up the mantle of changing the narrative as far as African economic advancement is concerned. As he always says, the future of Africa belongs to the younger generation who owe themselves a duty to prove that Africa can and will pull itself up from the poverty mentality to a sphere of economic growth that will make the continent one to be reckoned with among the comity of nations.

Being a private sector product himself, he has come to appreciate the critical role that sector is capable of playing in creating social and economic wealth. Even more importantly, and as it concerns the economic development of Africa, he is committed to enabling the younger generation to dare to achieve.

Similarly, through the instrumentality of TEFconnect which exposes young African entrepreneurs to business opportunities beyond the African borders, he has been able to support well over 1,200,000 Africans in 54 countries. He does this by partnering with global development organisations and in the process supporting a drive to impact the economy across Africa.

Elumelu had humble beginnings, just like many other successful people. From a copier salesman to a small bank staff with All States Trust Bank and later to a banker in the real sense of the word, he has become renowned for his philanthropy.

He is an economist by training, an entrepreneur by calling, and a philanthropist by vocation. He is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, and Transcorp Corporation.

He studied Economics at the Bendel State University (now Ambrose Alli University) for a B.Sc; he added a Master of Science degree in Economics from the University of Lagos. He is also an alumnus of the prestigious Harvard Business School where he honed his skills.

Elumelu worked at Union Bank as a youth corps member after which he started his career as a salesman. He subsequently joined the now defunct All States Trust Bank and United Bank for Africa.

He, in 1997, led a small group of investors to take over a struggling Crystal Bank (later renamed Standard Trust Bank). He turned it profitable within a few years and, in 2005, he led one of the largest mergers in the banking sector in sub-Saharan Africa by acquiring United Bank for Africa (UBA). Following the merger of Standard Trust Bank and United Bank for Africa, Elumelu led the company as group managing director from a single-country banking group to a pan-African bank with subsidiaries in 20 African countries, France, the U.S. and the U.K.

On retirement, he founded Heirs Holdings, an investment holding company which maintains a portfolio of investments across several sectors including diversified investments, banking, financial services, real estate, energy, oil and gas, healthcare, hospitality and insurance. Through Heirs Holdings, Elumelu holds a controlling interest in Transnational Corporation, a diversified conglomerate with business interests in power, hospitality and energy. In January 2021, Heirs Holdings through its affiliates – Heirs Oil & Gas and Transnational Corporation — announced its acquisition of a 45 per cent operating stake in a permit known as Oil Mining Lease 17 from Shell, Total and ENI in a deal worth more than $1 billion.

Elumelu was born in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, on March 22, 1963, and hails from Onicha-Ukwu in Aniocha North local government area of Delta State.

Chief Timipre Sylva

For demonstrating a strong resolve in getting the Petroleum Industry Bill signed into law, ensuring the full adoption of its provisions for the betterment of the oil and gas sector, leading to the incorporation of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), making it more transparent and accountable, Chief Timipre Sylva is LEADERSHIP Public Service Person Of The Year 2021


As minister of state for petroleum resources, Chief Timipre Sylva has made his mark as an outstanding public officeholder. Most remarkable of his achievements is the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill into law, thus delivering on a critical issue that formed the 9-point agenda rolled out when he took over as minister.

For over two decades, the PIB under successive administrations defied passage until 2021 when the bill, driven by the dogged determination of Chief Sylva to conclude this long-drawn-out process, was finally passed into law by the National Assembly and eventually accented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Petroleum Industry Act 2021 has placed Nigeria on the right path where it can comfortably compete better in the global oil and gas market by eliminating the uncertainties that hitherto surrounded the legal, administrative and fiscal policies of the oil and gas sector, thus opening up the country to attract much-needed foreign investments to galvanize growth and development.

As head of the PIA implementation steering committee, Chief Sylva also demonstrated his strong resolve not just in getting the law signed but also ensuring the full adoption of its provisions for the betterment of the oil and gas sector in particular and the country in general. He demonstrated this by driving the timely constitution and approval of the board and management of the new regulatory bodies for the upstream and midstream/downstream, the Nigeria Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission and the Nigeria Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, ensuring their immediate and smooth takeoff and subsequent scrapping of their predecessor institutions.

Also, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) under Timipre Sylva is now incorporated, making it more transparent and accountable with the passage of the bill, even as its profits would accrue to the country and subsequently be moved to the Federation Account.

The Ministry of Petroleum Resources, under the supervision of the former governor of Bayelsa State, has become a formidable front driver in the process of diversifying the country’s mono-cultural economy by exploring and promoting the midstream sector of huge gas production for both local consumption and export purposes. The National Gas Expansion Programme basically exploits the country’s comparative advantage in the abundance of natural gas reserves.

Sylva who was appointed as minister of state for petroleum in August 2019 by President Muhammadu Buhari has been able to forge a rare collaboration that has brought synergy to operations in the oil and gas industry, just as he has ensured calm in the highly combustible Niger Delta region.

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Key achievements of the oil sector, on Sylva’s watch, include the signing of the Final Investment Decision for NLNG Train 7 project, the commencement of the AKK pipeline project championed by the NNPC and implementation of the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry.

Other notable accomplishments include the completion and commissioning of the 17-storey headquarters building of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and commissioning of the Waltersmith modular refinery developed with 30 percent equity from the NCDMB.

Among Sylva’s achievements are the completion of Phase 1 of the Port Harcourt Refinery Rehabilitation exercise and the re-opening of OML 25 flow station in Rivers State after two years of inactivity as a result of community issues between the host community/Belema Oil and Shell Petroleum Development Company. Under Sylva, the NNPC was able to restore oil production in the community and get youths of the area engaged, thereby bringing peace and stability to a hitherto volatile community. The reopening of the oil station added 35,000 barrels of crude oil per day to Nigeria’s daily production.

Fearless Energy Drink

Fearless Energy drink, produced by Rite Foods Limited, stands out in the highly competitive Nigerian consumer market. For prioritizing the health of the consumers by producing Fearless Energy drink under the best condition and winning the hearts of its consumers, Fearless Energy drink is LEADERSHIP Product of the Year 2021

There has been an increase in the number of energy drinks in the Nigerian market. Of the lot, Fearless Energy drink, produced by Rite Foods Limited in Ogun State, seems the best. It presently employs thousands of Nigerians, starting from its factory located in Ososa, Ogun State. The energy drink is produced under the best hygienic standards.

Fearless Energy drink is non-alcoholic and loaded with Vitamin B to support consumers’ active lifestyle. It also contains high-quality ingredients: Vitamin B6, a water-soluble nutrient that is part of the B vitamin family which helps support adrenal function, helps calm and maintain a healthy nervous system, and is necessary for key metabolic processes. It also contains Vitamin B12 which is essential for building blood cells and maintaining healthy nerve cells in the body.

The energy drink revitalizes consumers so they can have endurance and concentration to do all the things they have to do, plus the ability to become what they want to become.

Fearless Energy drink is non-alcoholic but it has been a favorite mixer among mixologists in their cocktail recipes; it is not harmful. Fearless Energy drink is produced under the highest standards.

Rite Foods Limited has taken a grand leap in the FMCG industry by building a world-class factory in Ososa. This major milestone has further promoted development in the Nigerian food industry.


For striking partnerships that provide businesses all around the world with a wide range of payment solutions to enable them to expand their operations in Africa and other emerging markets, Flutterwave is LEADERSHIP e-Commerce Company of the Year

Year 2020 could be regarded as the best so far for Flutterwave. Its successes in fundraising, partnerships with global processing and payment companies, banks, mobile money and mobile network operators have raised its profile and value as a $1billion unicorn.

Founded in 2016 by a team of ex-bankers, entrepreneurs and engineers to provide businesses all around the world with a powerful, reliable and intelligent payment gateway to expand their operations in Africa and other emerging markets, Flutterwave enables cross-border transactions via one API (application programme interface).

To date, Flutterwave has processed over 140 million transactions worth over $9 billion and served more than 300,000 businesses, offering payment processing in 150 currencies and multiple payment modes including local and international cards, mobile wallets, bank transfers, Barter by Flutterwave and so on.

Early in 2020, Flutterwave raised $170 million as part of a successful Series C round to execute an ambitious growth strategy to become a leading global payments company, empowering SMEs and multinational brands by connecting the highly fragmented African digital payments landscape.

It partnered with payments giant PayPal to ensure that their merchants add PayPal as a payment option, helping African businesses connect to over 377 million PayPal accounts globally.  It also partnered with FIS, the largest processing and payments company in the world, to expand Worldpay, its payment processing platform, into the rapidly growing markets of South Africa and Nigeria.

In the course of the year, MTN and Flutterwave agreed to increase mobile money usage and penetration in Africa to improve local economies and livelihoods as well as create opportunities for individuals and businesses across the continent. This would enable Flutterwave to offer MTN Mobile Money as a payment method to its business customers.

Flutterwave also partnered with Standard Bank to enhance digital payment experiences for its customers in Nigeria and seven other countries as well as Nigeria’s payment service bank, 9PSB, to create a seamless payment ecosystem by aggregating and simplifying transactions for banking agents, merchants, and consumers.

During the USSD crisis between deposit money banks and MTN Nigeria, Flutterwave was quickly tapped among other fintechs to ensure that subscribers had a quick means of recharging their phones from their bank accounts.

Flutterwave has also been flaunting its cash to improve its business with the acquisition of Disha, a Nigerian company that empowers makers and creators with tools and templates to showcase their work and grow their business without writing code.

Ibom Air

For being the first state-owned airline in Nigeria to start commercial operations and for rapidly expanding to Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Lagos within two years, Ibom Air is LEADERSHIP Company of the Year

Ibom Air, which launched its maiden flight in June 2019, is rated as one of the most successful airlines in Nigeria. When the Akwa Ibom State-owned airline commenced operations on June 7, 2019, with a Bombardier CRJ900 aircraft marked “Ibom Air”, it was a dream come true: it became the first state-owned airline to commence commercial operations in Nigeria.

Ibom Air’s first flight took off from Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, the state capital, with government officials on board and en route to Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos. It now flies to Uyo, Abuja, Enugu, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Lagos.

Its mission is to set the standard as the airline of choice for passengers in Nigeria, West Africa and beyond by focusing on service excellence, hospitality and innovation — with an infusion of style and grace.

Ibom Air has the slogan, “Every time you fly with us, our goal is to provide you and every one of our passengers with a safe, consistent, reliable, comfortable and enjoyable flying experience. We take pride in our airline and will always act in the best interest of our customers.”

Two years into its operations, precisely in May 2021, the airline signed Nigeria’s first domestic codeshare agreement with Dana Air.

Describing the collaboration of one of its kind, Dana Air’s chief operating officer Obi Mbanuzuo said the agreement is the first of its kind for domestic airlines in Nigeria.

“We do hope that this partnership… will set a positive precedent for the greater good of the industry,” he stated.

In order to reward customer loyalty, Ibom Air set up a loyalty programme designed to reward its regular customers. Membership of the programme provides access to exclusive benefits designed to make travel more rewarding and enjoyable for customers.

With Ibom Flyer, members experience a unique recognition, rewards and differentiated service level across three membership tiers: Green, Orange and Top.

On Wednesday, November 3, 2021, the management of the growing company with so many prospects welcomed the airline’s one-millionth passenger on board flight number IAN4134 departing from Victor Attah International Airport, Uyo, to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. The passenger, Ms Olowodu Daba Obene, was in the queue to board when the count to the 1,000,000th passenger began.

Chief operating officer George Uriesi, explaining the reason for the symbolic recognition of the one-millionth passenger, said it was an essential element of Ibom Air’s culture to track every aspect of the airline’s performance and capture major milestones. By so doing, he said, the airline is able to keep its passengers and stakeholders informed about the progress and achievements of the airline.

Ibom Air achieved the 500,000-passenger milestone on March 2, 2021. On November 16, 2021, it signed an agreement with Airbus for the purchase of 10 A220 aircraft to boost its fleet. The agreement was signed at the Dubai Airshow.

LEADERSHIP bank Of The Year 2021
Fidelity Bank

For driving agribusiness and the expansion of non-oil exports in the country, Fidelity Bank Plc is LEADERSHIP Bank of the Year 2021

Fidelity bank plc

Fidelity Bank Plc is popular in the Nigerian economy for its interest in export promotion and drive for a savings culture. The bank, which has an international banking licence, has an asset base of N3.11 trillion as of June 30, 2021, a figure that has more than doubled compared to an asset base of N1.29 trillion it had in 2016.

The bank’s passion for increasing non-oil exports in the country is reflected on its Export Management Programme (EMP), a capacity development programme it runs in collaboration with the Lagos Business School and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC). Targeted at growing the capacity of small businesses in the country, the programme has trained hundreds of individuals and businesses since its inception.

The EMP, which is open to both aspiring and experienced exporters, is an intense and hands-on export management education designed to equip Nigerian exporters, regulators, financiers and policymakers with the practical knowledge and business management skills required to compete effectively in the global export market.

The bank is one of the few financial institutions in the country that has continued to build up its loan book, as total loans to customers grew by 113.7 per cent in the course of five years despite the nation’s economic recession and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Its drive for a savings culture has seen it build up its deposit base, which was N792.79 billion in 2016, by almost 150 per cent to N1.98 trillion as of June 30, 2021, while its profit base continues to rise. The bank has over the years built strong partnerships across the broad spectrum of economic actors in the agribusiness space to drive agribusiness financing interventions to micro and last-mile levels.

It leveraged strategic partnerships with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and development finance institutions (DFIs) under various industry-targeted intervention funding programmes to enhance access to credits to eligible players in the agribusiness and non-oil exports space.

Operators, funding partners and all other actors in the agribusiness space have continued to recognize Fidelity Bank’s activities. At the Bankers’ Committee meeting of December 2019, the bank was awarded second position in Sustainable Agriculture Transactions of the Year.

The bank also recently joined the league of gender-inclusive financial institutions with a woman at the helm of its affairs: Mrs. Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe was on January 1, 2021, appointed the first female managing director of the bank.

Mele Kyari

For turning the NNPC into a profitmaking national oil company and driving the present administration’s gas revolution, among other innovations, Mallam Mele Kyari is LEADERSHIP CEO of the Year 2021

Mele Kyari NNPC GMD

Mallam Mele Kyari has distinguished himself as an outstanding chief executive officer since he was officially inaugurated as the group managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Key among his long list of achievements in 2021 was turning NNPC into a profitable institution after four decades of lossmaking.

Kyari has run the NNPC with a high degree of transparency and accountability, breaking a bad record of the agency: failure to publish its audited financial statements. This year alone, Kyari has published two years’ audited statements, beating the record he set in his first year in office when he published for one year.

On his watch, the NNPC became an incorporated entity in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021; he played a major role in the coming of PIA.

Under Kyari, NNPC has focused heavily on the gas sector, in keeping with the aspiration of the administration to diversify the economy by transforming the nation into a gas-driven economy.

In June 2021, the ground-breaking ceremony of the NLNG Train 7 Project was conducted, signaling the commencement of construction work on the project.

In order to provide an alternative to Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) as the sole automotive fuel and reduce the huge importation bill of the product, the GMD led NNPC to key into the Year /Decade of Gas initiative spearheaded by the minister of state for petroleum resources to launch the Autogas initiative. It executed a JV agreement with NIPCO to help in the marketing and distribution of the product to get as many Nigerians as possible to migrate to the use of gas as automotive fuel.

Mallam Kyari heralded 2021 with a significant step in the direction of bringing the proposed Brass Gas Hub into reality. He led NNPC to take the Final Investment Decision (FID) with the Brass Fertiliser and Petrochemical Company for the $3.6bn Brass Methanol Plant in Odioma, Bayelsa State.

He followed up a few weeks later with the signing of a $260m financing agreement for the Assa-North Ohaji South (ANOH) Gas Project with Seplat. The project will deliver 300 million standard cubic feet of gas per day and 1,200 megawatts of electricity to the domestic market.

On April 22, 2021, NNPC executed a Gas Development Agreement (GDA) for the Oil Mining Lease (OML) 143 with its partner, Sterling Oil Exploration and Production Company (SEEPCO). The project will boost the nation’s gas production by 1.2 trillion cubic feet.

The corporation also secured the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) grant and commenced the upgrade of the 1350MW Abuja IPP project to World Bank standard for bankability.

Keen on boosting petroleum products supply and distribution in the riverine areas of the Niger Delta, Mallam Kyari led NNPC to sign an agreement with the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) and Zed Energy for the construction of the N10.5bn Brass Petroleum Products Terminal. The facility will serve as a strategic reserve for the country as it is expected to provide a depot for 50 million litres of petroleum products, two-way product jetty, automated storage and automated bay for AGO, PMS, DPK and ATK. It will close the infrastructure gap in the distribution of petroleum products and also help to stop illegal refining activities.

Mallam Kyari is also driving the rehabilitation project of local refineries to an advanced level. On April 6, 2021, he led NNPC to sign the $1.5bn Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) Contract Agreement with Tecnimont SpA for the complete rehabilitation of Port Harcourt Refinery.

On May 7, 2021, the GMD led NNPC and the contractor, Tecnimont SpA, to flag off construction work on the Port Harcourt Refinery rehabilitation project.

Kyari is in the process of making good his promise to introduce a new operational model for the refineries’ post-rehabilitation with the call for bids for the Operations and Maintenance Contract advertised recently in the media. The O & M model would ensure that the refineries are managed by contractors with requisite experience who would ensure that they are regularly maintained when due.


Rejoice Oghenero

For taking his passion for aeronautical engineering to the next level, actualising his dream of building small aircraft from scrap and coupling an auto pilot system technology, a mini aircraft, using locally sourced materials, Rejoice Oghenero is LEADERSHIP Outstanding Young Person of the Year 2021

After years of considering the possibility of flying unmanned mini planes, Rejoice Oghenero, an SS3 student from Kaima, Kolokuma/Opokuma local government area of Bayelsa State, finally found light at the end of the tunnel five months ago. And like other tech-hobbyists, he was able to couple an auto pilot system technology, a mini aircraft, using locally sourced materials.

Oghenero who has so far built well over 50 aircraft started out with drone-making using bamboo before perfecting his skill. Remarkably, 80 per cent of the materials used for his work is gotten from condemned refrigerators and from plywood. The 20-year-old dogged innovator wowed the world when he showcased the drones/mini aircraft he built in his village five months ago.

Despite coming from a poor family, Oghenero who has always had the innovative spirit came up with his first drone in 2013 after much research.  The second child of a family of six turned celebrity relied on the internet, his physics textbook and his teacher to improve on his creative art.

He started out by using a wired remote which had made him lose the aircraft as it could only fly a short distance, but with his ability to create a wireless remote in 2017, he can now boastfully control all his aircraft as far as possible.

Although he grew up in the slum, he did not allow that to deter him from having a dream and working earnestly to realise that dream. Aware that you must never allow your environment outshine your dream, he never allowed his race or complexion to deter him from building an aircraft. Even though he got some discouraging words because of who and where he comes from, he believed in himself and that he could do anything.

Oghenero did not give up. He waited for more than a year, even when the aircraft was giving him tough time to put together. He was patient enough to pull through, knowing full well that patience is a virtue that everyone should strive to get. He has passion for what he does and, right now, all he is interested in is making impact and affecting lives positively.

He achieved this feat because he was determined to succeed. He had to go into petty trade — selling sachet water — just to raise money to get the needed materials. Having talent or skill is awesome, but it should not stop at that. He did not stop with the talent or skills he acquired; he kept researching to know more. He developed a curious mind to know more, read books, engaged in research and asked questions.

Oghenero is not displaying his talent to attract financial support but to leave a remarkable legacy. For him, building drones and aircraft has really taught him the virtue of patience, as he had to spend long time learning. Today, he has a small shop which he refers to as his “factory”.

Blessing Oborududu

For lifting the mood of the nation around Team Nigeria’s performance at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games with a silver medal, adding to her 10-year dominance on the African continent, Blessing Oborududu is LEADERSHIP Sportsperson of the Year 2021

Before the start of rescheduled Tokyo 2020 Olympics, if there was one sport Nigerians were hoping for a gold medal, it was wrestling, a sport in which the ultimate medal had eluded the country since Atlanta ’96. But while all eyes were on Africa’s No. 1 wrestling sensation, Odunayo Adekuoroye, for the expected gold, it was 32-year-old Blessing Oborududu that climbed the podium with a “golden silver” around her neck.

Oborududu won Olympic Games’ silver medal in the women’s freestyle 68kg, the first by a Nigerian wrestler in history. It was also Nigeria’s first medal at the games. The 32-year-old won the Tokyo 2020 silver medal in her third appearance at the Olympics since 2012 in London.

Oborududu, born March 12, 1989, is a 10-time African champion from 2010 to 2020 and is currently ranked as the world No. 2 woman wrestler. She announced herself to the wrestling world in 2007 when she was invited to join Nigeria’s team for the All African Games. She was unrivalled in secondary school where she started wrestling, and quickly caught the attention of the Bayelsa State government which invited her for the prestigious National Sports Festival.

Two years later, she cemented her position in the National Wrestling team and has retained the spot, being a regular in continental tournaments.

She dominated 59kg, was unrivalled in the 63kg, before stepping up to her current 68kg, winning a record 10 African titles across the weights.

Oborududu has won all African titles apart from 2012 when she skipped the continental event for London 2012, the first of her three Olympic appearances.

Maryam Bukar Hassan

For using her platforms as a social media influencer to champion the campaign to end violence against women and children, and for gaining global recognition for her video on domestic violence, Maryam Bukar Hassan is LEADERSHIP Artiste of the Year 2021

Maryam Bukar Hassan, an indigene of Borno State in the North-East of Nigeria, is an inspiring leader, a social media influencer, and a brand advocate. Born on December 25, 1996, in Kaduna State, the renowned poet and exponent of the spoken word, gender advocate, wellness enthusiast and the new voice of young emerging Africans has been advocating women rights and emancipation in the North.

An activist on violence against women and children, Maryam who is simply known as Alhanislam, has gained recognition for her video on domestic violence entitled “Violence Has No Religion”, which has attracted over 3.2 million views on YouTube.

The demography of her followers is spread across Nigeria, and through her platforms she has provided visibility for brands and promoted their essence to hundreds of thousands of her followers, particularly young women from northern Nigeria who are challenging the status quo and seeking better opportunities for Nigerian women. She has worked with multinationals, government and international NGOs, spoken and performed spoken-word poetry, using it as an intervention at various high-level events, including the Ake Arts and Book Festival, the Kaduna Book and Arts Festival 2017 x 2019, TEDx Argungu, NEXT Level USA, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) conferences, the African Governance Architecture Conference and the African Union 8th High Level Dialogue Conference 2019 which took place in Kampala, Uganda.

As an instructor on Sapphital Learning Platform, the former ambassador for the Islamic Ummah Relief international foundation and a resident artist of the “Five Cowries Initiative” runs courses on spoken-word poetry and poetry for children, and in 2017 she signed Caller Tune contracts with Airtel, 9 Mobile and MTN.

Alhanislam is currently an ambassador to the Gheii (global envoy international foundation), Hulul Albina, and the official AS ROMA academy in Nigeria — she is quite passionate about soccer and she also plays. She is the cofounder of Creative Kiddies Nigeria, a platform where kids are taught poetry, monologues, public speaking and Deen-at-heart speech, known as the production of content in Islam. Maryam established the Centre for the Teaching of Islam, the teaching of life, counselling, speech training, and the teaching house of literature.


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