The Editorial Board of Y!/YNaija.com, has announced the 2016 edition of its annual list of the 100 most influential Nigerians in the past year. The carefully curated list is a perfect mix of individuals who have greatly impacted the Nigerian society in different fields of endeavour including entertainment, religion, governance, media, technology and more...

“In our annual tradition, we take a look back at the 100 people who have defined, re-defined and moulded the days of our lives in 2016, as part of our mission to focus our largely youth audience on the issues and ideas that truly matter,” says Isime Esene, Managing Editor, YNaija.com. “Innovators, creators, political players, entertainers and activists of all ages - you won't find a more definitive list anywhere else.”

See full list and profiles below.


Atiku Abubakar

The former Vice President has shrugged off his defeat at the All Progressives Congress (APC) primaries and has much more than any politician not named Saraki, set himself to the task of rebuilding political structures, amassing allies and making all the right noises. Whether all of this will eventually lead to an Atiku Abubakar presidency should be interesting to watch.

Akinwunmi Ambode

After a slow start, Akinwunmi Ambode has taken to the task of governing Nigeria’s mega city with verve, impressing many and surpassing expectations. He has shown commitment to being inclusive by carrying along non-elitist suburbs, impressed with the Light Up project that has changed the face of Lagos roads and his 25 billion Employment Trust Fund seeks to confront youth unemployment head on.

Aisha Buhari

The first lady dared to speak her mind in an interview with the BBC Hausa language service that was mildly critical of her husband’s politics and was promptly dismissed by the president as belonging to ‘’the other room.” But Mrs. Buhari has proven to be made of sterner stuff, speaking out for society’s underprivileged and raising money and goodwill for the rehabilitation of the victims of Boko Haram’s insurgency.

Ibrahim Dankwambo

The ‘’Change” mantra that swept through the entire North during the last general elections did the Peoples Democratic Party no good but Ibrahim Dankwambo of Gombe state emerged from the political tsunami as the last man standing, managing to win a second term and under the PDP platform too. Dankwambo’s major achievements are in road construction, education, infrastructure and water supply.

Lawal Daura

The Department of State Security Service is once again a force to be reckoned with and the fear of Lawal Daura and his men is only the beginning of wisdom. Irrespective of constitutional implications, Daura’s DSS has launched sting operations on judges deemed to be on the take, unscrupulous bureau de change operators and on corrupt politicians and government office holders.

Mamman Daura

A former journalist and industrialist, Mamman Daura holds no official cabinet or government position but his family ties to the President Buhari and the complete trust that the President has reportedly in him has placed him in a position where he is able to influence who and what gets the president’s approval- or attention for that matter. According to inside sources, federal appointments almost always receive the Mamman Daura seal of approval.

Ayo Fayose

You may not always agree with Fayose’s methods- and there is too much to disagree with,- but it is clear to see that Fayose swings from the thuggish, uncouth rabble-rouser image to a sometimes volatile, but thorough leader of the opposition. As his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) continues to shrink into irrelevance, Ayo Fayose represents the last stand, leading the defence and fighting hard to stay afloat. He may still have a lot of fight left in him.

Abba Kyari

The Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari is no ordinary domestic aide. Kyari enjoys a close and robust relationship with his principal and leverages on it to influence everything within government from policy making to presidential appointments. He was recently named to the six-man board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)

Senator Makarfi

The former Kaduna state Governor and Senator now has a running gig as chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It has fallen on Makarfi to lead a party in crisis and restore some semblance of confidence to a bruised property but Makarfi has so far spent his early days battling a challenge from the faction led by Ali Modu Sheriff. Crucial court victories relating to the Ondo state gubernatorial polls might prove that he has staying power.

Amina Mohammed

The Minister for Environment is one of the shining lights in Buhari’s cabinet. Apart from leading negotiations on behalf of Nigeria at the Cop 21 climate talks, Mohammed’s ministry supervised the launch and provided leadership commitment to the clean-up of Ogoniland, as recommended in the 2011 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report on Ogoniland and other associated sites.

Willie Obiano

The former banker took over a healthy economy from his predecessor and has gone on a massive infrastructure driven reconstruction of the state. From road networks to bridges, agricultural/rural development advances to providing a fertile environment for small and medium enterprises to thrive, Willie has indeed been working.

Olusegun Obasanjo

Since his second coming as a civilian president in 1999, no other personality has exerted as much influence on the polity as Olusegun Obasanjo. Some of this influence may be overbearing, sometimes it is self-serving, but it is hard to see any other leader that has dedicated their lives post service to the Nigerian project as Obasanjo has. From his second career as a continental diplomat to his past time of reminding sitting Presidents just why they were elected, Obasanjo is the man.

Peter Obi

Peter Obi has helped to direct much-needed attention to the perils of government waste, an expensive habit that continues to eat away at the economic fabric. And he’s walked his talk. Anambra state is one of only a handful of states that has not owed salaries since the economic downturn began. Anambra is presently in a position to provide generous economic stimulus packages only because of Peter Obi’s foresight and financial prudence while in office as governor.


BukolaSaraki, heir, and leader of a supreme political dynasty emerged senate president by cooking up an illicit but potent romance with his colleagues from the opposition. The Saraki armour survived countless hits including a protracted trial at the Code of Conduct Tribunal plus a criminal investigation into the forging the senate standing rules that got him elected.


Governor KashimShettima of Borno state is a shining example of a different kind of political leadership, one that has its roots in empathy and a genuine concern for the welfare of his people. He has been at the forefront of every single initiative to not only bring back and rehabilitate the missing Chibok girls, but also the thousands of other citizens lost to the Boko Haram insurgency.


Enoch Adeboye

The General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God is your favourite GO’s favourite GO. Perhaps the most influential religious leader in the country, Pastor Adeboye has stated that his aim is to put a branch within five minutes of every human on earth. Every year he comes closer to this goal as he continues to minister to his devoted flock.

Sam Adeyemi

Reverend Sam Adeyemi is the senior pastor, Daystar Christian Centre and founder, Daystar Leadership Academy, a resource centre dedicated to raising a new generation of leaders that will serve as catalysts for the transformation of Africa. DLA’s alumnus currently numbers over 30,000, drawn from all spheres of life including business, corporate and private sectors.

TB Joshua

Millions of faithful, from all over the world flock to Prophet TB Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations for his famous prophecies and life-altering interventions, millions more follow his teachings from the safe spaces of their home televisions and also online where his YouTube channel presently boasts over 400,000 subscribers.

Anthony Cardinal Okogie

His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal OlubunmiOkogie at 80 years of age may be settled into retirement but he has certainly not lost his voice, nor the importance of his calling, as he continues his fight for good governance, equality and speaking truth to power at every turn.

David Oyedepo

The founder and presiding Bishop of Living Faith Church World Wide, (also known as Winners’ Chapel) is in many ways also the most important private Nigerian investor in education. His work with Covenant University, Landmark University and the Kingdom Heritage model primary and secondary school franchise is unrivaled in its commitment to excellence.

Poju Oyemade

Pastor Poju Oyemade is the senior pastor of the Covenant Christian Centre Lagos and convener of The Platform, an annual Independence Day event where prominent business and political citizens (that are believers) share how they thrive in their industries applying principles founded in the Bible. In 2016, the Platform attracted speakers like Peter Obi, Bishop Matthew Kukah, and Sam Adeyemi.


Odunlade Adekola

For a spell now, Yoruba Nollywood fans have been in on Odunlade Adekola, the genre’s biggest leading man. A veteran of over 100 movies, Adekola has been quite prolific, producing and starring in some of the biggest and most successful Yoruba films of the last decade, building a cult following along the way. He made the crossover to mainstream audiences last year with the stylish caper Taxi Driver: OkoAshewo.

Kunle Afolayan

Mr. Afolayan’s big budget, pan-African production, The CEO may have been a critical misfire what with its problematic final act, but the box office receipts and accolades received only proved that Afolayan is one of the few names that are a genuine box office attraction. For The CEO, Afolayan gathered a cast from Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Benin Republic and South Africa and premiered the film aboard an Air France flight to Paris, France.


After a string of trials, NiyiAkinmolayan finally hit the mark with The Arbitration, a sexy legal thriller starring OC Ukeje and AdesuaUtomi that plays as a meditation on corporate power structure and how it plays out between both sexes. With a heavy presence on social media, Akinmolayan organised a scriptwriting competition for his next project with a winning prize of 100,000 Naira awarded the winner.

Yemi Alade

Yemi Alade capitalized on her pan-African appeal and released her sophomore, a dance-heavy record pandering to as wide an audience as possible. This gimmick worked in her favour as she was embraced by the continent, co-hosted the MTV Africa Movie Awards (alongside BonangMatheba) and featured on a worldwide Shell promotional campaign with Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson.


AY Makun is presently Nigeria’s funniest man. From AY Live to The AY Show, AY’s Crib to AY’s Open Mic, the span of products his Corporate World Entertainment has been able to turn into money-spinning business ventures is quite something to behold. A Trip to Jamaica, the sequel to 2014’s record breaking 30 Days in Atlanta has quickly become the most successful Nollywood film ever in terms of box office receipts.

Richard Mofe-Damijo

A former commissioner in his native Delta state, Richard Mofe-Damijo returned with his trademark charisma to the screen big time with high profile roles in television (Hush), lead roles (Oloibiri, The Grudge) and supporting turns (Dinner, The Wedding Party) in big screen productions. RMD was a member of the jury at this year’s Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF).


This rapper, comedian and internet savvy disrupter was born Folarin Falana. With 2 hit albums behind him, Falz has found a way to leverage on his comic talents and social media clout to push his music to wider audiences. Beyond mixing hit singles by the numbers, Falz took the concept of visual expression to a whole new level with his long form video for his single Soldier, a duet with singer Simi. This was a precursor to the eventual release of Chemistry, the joint EP by Falz and Simi.

DJ Jimmy Jatt

When it comes to the business of turning tables, Cool DJ Jimmy Jatt has elevated it to a profession. Beyond his unimpeachable bonafide as DJ of record for every event of note across the continent, DJ Jimmy Jatt has mentored a new generation of DJs, placing them on viable career paths. He has put out two well-received albums and has headed the jury for the Headies, Nigeria’s biggest music award show since 2005.

Femi Kuti

Femi Kuti has been all flying the flag for Afrobeat music since his father, Fela passed on and has been able to successfully create his own space, away but not separated from his father’s overriding legacy. He has been nominated for Grammys and has packed the convention centre of the Eko Hotel with a much buzzed about concert with younger brother, SeunKuti.


Mkparu is the CEO of Filmhouse cinemas and FilmOne Distribution Limited, a franchise currently operating in Lagos, Ibadan, and Calabar. A beneficiary of the $200 million Bank of Industry creative and entertainment industry intervention fund, Mkparu’sFilmhouse opened the first IMAX cinemas in Nigeria and his distribution business is responsible for The Birth of a Nation arriving local cinemas.


When it comes to pure box office attraction, OmoniOboli is simply without peer. No other actress/producer can draw people to the movies like she does. She was in Fifty and First Lady, two of the highest grossing films of 2015 and this year, has already made a profitable statement with the comedy, Wives on Strike. Her movies may be short on quality but they always find an audience.


IzuOjukwu has shown traits of genius, working on Amstel Malta Box Office sponsored films like Sitanda and White Waters. But it was with the long in the making ‘76, released this year, that Ojukwu achieved his potential as the most important director of his generation. ‘76 is both high water mark and career highlight for Ojukwu and the team of actors and crew members which he marshalled to make movie magic.

Mildred Okwo

Okwo is the co-founder of The Audrey Silva Company, the forward thinking production house behind the future classic, The Meeting and Surulere, a showcase of fresh Nollywood talent. A well-respected film director and producer, Okwo acts as Nollywood’s mother hen, dishing out tough love to a new generation of thespians on and off Twitter. She provided support to Bovi’s It’s Her Day and is hard at work on her new television series, Bankers NGR.


ChibuikeAzubuike Nelson aka Phyno isn’t the first indigenous rapper working predominantly in the Igbo language but he’s been the most successful so far. Phyno who enjoys an endorsement deal with NairaBET has two successful solo studio albums (No Guts No Glory, The Playmaker) to his name and recently shut down a large stadium in Enugu with his annual Phyno Fest concert.


Africa’s most famous twin brothers Paul and Peter Okoye left their fans flustered when they spent the better part of the year bickering and threatening to terminate their union. After releasing lukewarm solo projects, the brothers decided to patch things up and came back with Bank Alert, an instant club banger that got everyone dancing again and proved that two is more formidable than one.

Tiwa Savage

Tiwa Savage put out an innuendo-heavy video for her smash single If I start to talk in April, and by the next week her marriage was over. She seized control of the narrative though, voicing out her version of events in an exclusive interview that very nearly broke the internet. She returned to work almost immediately, releasing a well-received single with Wizkid, signing with JayZ’s Roc Nation and appearing on the soundtrack to AY’s record bursting film, A Trip to Jamaica.


The executive director and founder of the Africa International Film Festival (AFRIFF) has been working assiduously for 6 years now to make AFRIFF the continent’s most important film festival. Aside the glitz and glam, AFRIFF provides film training and talent development opportunities for budding filmmakers and creates an environment for stakeholders to engage in robust discussions.


26 year-old Wizkid achieved the unthinkable when he helped Canadian rapper, Drake secure his first Billboard Hot 100 number one as a lead artiste with the single One Dance. From London to Laos, Cairo to Cape Verde, the new sound of World music is Afrobeats and Wizkid is at the forefront of artistes creatively marketing Nigeria to the world. Everyone else is mostly following his lead.


Chimamanda NgoziAdichie

The most compulsively readable writer of her generation in all of Africa is a 39 year-old Nigerian mother of one who has won numerous book awards and has been nominated for a Grammy. An unapologetic feminist who is now required reading in Norway, Chimamanda NgoziAdichie easily sparks debates and influences thought whenever she decides to publish her work or speak her mind. Thankfully for humanity, she does this with some degree of prolificity.


In between starring in some of the most high-profile films (Surulere, The CEO) to hit the cinemas of late, LalaAkindoju operates a private hustle as the CEO of Make It Happen productions, an outfit that has staged critically and commercially successful iterations of plays like V-Monologues, Femi Osofisan’s The Wives and London Life, Lagos Living. Akindoju also runs Open Mic Theatre, a hub for the expression of fresh talented acts in entertainment.

TY Bello

You know you are one of the most powerful persons alive when you can take a local bread seller, glam her up, present her to the world on the cover of This Day Style no less, and alter the course of her life, perhaps forever. This Day Style may not be the force it once was but Bello’s photographs of the most buzzworthy figures are still as important, and no Sunday is quite complete without her work staring at us boldly, daring us to look away. We dare not.


AyodeleElegba is the CEO of Mustardseed Communication, convener of the annual comic, animation, gaming and film convention dubbed Lagos Comic Con, the biggest gathering of comic lovers in the country which is in its fifth year. Elegba’s name and prints appear on some of the most popular intellectual properties on the continent as regards comics, graphics, and animation and he continues to push to unlock the full potentials of his industry.

Edward Keazor

Ed Emeka Keazor trained as a lawyer but for the last couple of years, has worked as a journalist (regional editor for Music in Africa), musician (with traditional group Ikenga) and historian. He has over the last few years been involved in several projects documenting Nigerian history. Keazor’s richly researched lectures on Nigerian history are a hit in corporate and art circles where hs services are in popular demand.


NnediOkoroafor’s 2015 book, Binti, a HarryPotter-esque space odyssey won the Nebula Award for best novella, awarded by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Okoroafor, who holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois, Chicago and works as an associate professor of creative writing and literature at the University at Buffalo also made history by becoming the first Nigerian to win the Hugo award in the novella category.

Bolanle Austen-Peters

Bolanle Austen-Peters is the founder of arts and culture hub Terra Kulture, perhaps the most important space for the promotion of arts in Lagos state. Since inception, Terra Kulture has hosted over 100 plays. Apart from producing and directing Wakaa the musical, another big scale, splashy stage production, Austen-Peters also brought the excellent 93 Days, a chronicle of the nation’s successful fight against Ebola to the big screens.

Lola Shoneyin

The author of The Secret lives of Baba Segi’s wives, Shoneyin’s work with the Ake Book festival, an annual celebration of literature, dance and music has had a healthy and far-reaching impact on the creative industry. Writers and their hangers on look forward to the Ake festival with all the excitement of Hollywood’s awards season.

Chika Unigwe

The author of the NLNG award-winning novel On Black Sisters Street resides in the United States where she is not only a professor of creative writing at Brown University but represents Nigeria proudly and effectively too. Unigwe has won the 2003 BBC Short Story Competition and a Commonwealth Short Story Competition award among other laurels. She is one of the judges for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize.

Bibi Bakare Yusuf

An accomplished scholar, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf has through Cassava Republic press contributed to getting the nation reading. Cassava Republic which recently turned ten opened an office in London and published the Nigerian issues of hotly anticipated titles by Toni Kan, Sarah LadipoManyika, and LeyeAdenle. The romance imprint Ankara is also pushing stories by upcoming writers.


Omoyemi Akerele

Founder and artistic director of Style House Files, a creative development agency for Nigerian and African designers, Omoyemi Akerele is a driving force behind the burgeoning Nigerian fashion industry. A pioneer in image consultancy and creative direction, Akerele also helps brands gain essential international exposure through presenting showcases at Pitti Imagine in Italy, and through the annual Lagos Fashion and Design Week.

Mai Atafo

Atelier, businessman and showman, Mai Atafo is one of the most dependable names in men- and women’s fashion. His output moves from the production room straight to the red carpet and every celebrity of note; from Ramsey Nouah to Ebuka Obi-Uchendu has been attired by Mai Atafo. Weddings by Mai, perhaps his most popular line caters to every wedding clothing element that exists.

Adebayo Oke-Lawal

Oke-Lawal’s Orange Culture was part of Nigeria’s delegation to the 2015 International Fashion Showcase and was invited to show at premier menswear trade show PittiUomo under the Ethical Fashion Initiative. The self-effacing Oke-Lawal continues to juggle multiple balls in the air with the spin-off diffusion labels, Orange by Orange Culture, and a streetwear brand, O.C by Orange Culture.

Joan Okorodudu

A lot of working models, both at home and in the diaspora owe a lot of their success to Joan Okorodudu, founder of ISIS modelling agency and godmother of the Nigerian fashion industry. A former beauty queen herself, Okorodudu started ISIS while trying to fill the need for suitable representatives for models who emerged victorious in a reality competition that she organised.

Amaka Osakwe

Amaka Osakwe’s Maki Oh is white hot, even Beyonce knows to seek the brand out when looking to return to her African roots. And who can blame the Queen Bey? Maki Oh’s 2015 collection Arodan, debuted exclusively on Vogue, instantly making Osakwe the first designer based in Nigeria to achieve this feat. Maki Oh’s first studio in Lekki was commissioned last year and influential figures like Michelle Obama and Kerry Washington have been spotted wearing the label.


Lucy Ejike

Lucy OgechukwuEjike is the Nigerian Paralympic powerlifter who has represented country at five consecutive Paralympic Games from 2000 in Sydney through 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, winning medals at each outing. An elite athlete, Ejike made history when she shattered the Paralympic and world record three successive times before winning gold with a lift of 142kg at the Rio Games.

John Mikel Obi

The Chelsea midfielder may not be known for scoring goals with prolific efficiency but he has steadily built his profile as one of the most successful African football players of his generation, joining Chelsea FC in Europe Championship and Premiership victories. One of the most decorated players on the continent, Obi was head of Team Nigeria’s delegation to the Rio Olympic games and provided leadership that moved his team from being stranded in Atlanta to scoring a Bronze medal.

Florence Omagbemi

Omagbemi enjoyed more than a decade-long stint as player and midfielder with the female national football side, Super Falcons before retiring and eventually serving as coach of the same Falcons. In December, she became the first person ever to win the African Women Cup of Nations as both player and coach when the Super Falcons defeated Cameroon to emerge champions for a record tenth time.


The most exciting female player on the continent is also one of the youngest. Last year, AsisatOshoala scored double at the Glo/CAF awards, winning the African Women’s Player of the Year and Women Youth Player of the year. A veteran of two FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cups, Oshoala recently achieved her childhood dream of playing for Arsenal Ladies FC in the English Premier League. She is part of the team that emerged champions of Africa after winning the African cup of Nations in December.


Mo Abudu

Mo Abudu is the founder of EbonyLife Television and the Inspire Africa Foundation. As a TV producer, media personality, human resources management consultant, and entrepreneur, Mo is the poster child for those who keep evolving – for the better. EbonyLife films rolls out its second feature length, The Wedding Party, a star-packed glossy fairy tale starring AdesuaEtomi and Banky W.


TajudeenAdepetu is the managing director of Consolidated Media Associates (owners of ONTV, Televista Movies, Spice TV, Village Square and Soundcity) and Alphavision productions. These two companies together have made him the biggest owner of media properties this side of Africa. And he’s not nearly done. He launched Tribe TV, a new channel for African movies serviced across DStv channels.


Everywhere you look these days, there is a Pulse.ng ad material staring you in the face. There is no escaping the media onslaught it seems. Leading the editorial charge for the brand is entertainment journalist OsagieAlonge. Beyond the routine news, lifestyle and events content, Pulse.ng under Alonge’s watch has cornered the market on the effective use of video to create viral content, with soar away segments like Pulse TV strivia, Vox Pop, and Facts Only.

Mike Asukwo</d

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