Top 10 Young Game Changers of the Tinubu Renewed Hope Agenda

Who is a youth? There is no universally agreed international definition of the youth age group. The United Nations (UN), the Commonwealth, the African Union (AU) and Nigeria’s National Youth Policy give different definitions of who is a youth.

For instance, the United Nations—without prejudice to any other definitions made by Member States—defines ‘youth’ as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years. This definition, which arose in the context of preparations for the International Youth Year (1985), was endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 36/28 of 1981. All UN statistics on youth are based on this definition, as is reflected in the annual yearbooks of statistics published by the UN system on demography, education, employment and health.

The Commonwealth defines youth as 15-29 years of age. The African Youth Charter defines youth as “any individual between 15-35 years of age. The Nigerian National Youth Policy defines youth as anyone between the age of 18 and 35.

Because of the non-universal acceptability of the age bracket that constitutes the youth, categorization of people into that demography in real life situations has become very elastic. In the political arena in Nigeria, for example, like in many other democracies, almost all political parties have youth wings or groups that vociferously campaign for them. Nobody cares about the ages of individual members of the youth groups. Thus, any member of the youth group who considers himself as you can belong to the youth group. Similarly any member who contests and wins, or is selected, becomes the Youth Leader. There was a reported case of a party’s Youth Leader who was above 60 years.

That is not all. Political parties provide for the position of Youth Leader in their constitutions. Their manifestos also promise numerous programmes to be executed in aid of youths if and when they win elections and form a government.

In recognition of the role youths play in electoral victories or losses, sensible politicians, in the course of their campaigns, usually address the concerns of youths and promise what to do for them when they assume office when they win. For instance, during his campaign for the 2023 general elections in Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), presented to Nigerian youths what he called a youth-inclusion agenda. It is a policy of giving more opportunities to young Nigerians to participate in governance, reducing the financial barrier to higher education for many students, creating job opportunities for the teeming youth population, among other things.

His campaign was largely a throwback to his days as Governor of Lagos State between 1999 and 2007. While at the helms in Lagos, the country’s economic nerve centre, he worked with many young and competent professionals. Many of the talents he spotted and worked with in one capacity or the other when he was Governor have become high flyers in national politics and governance.

It is this same mindset of putting square pegs in square holes that Tinubu, a trained accountant, brought into his position as president. So, youth inclusion and job creation were top on the agenda of his close to one-year administration so far. In his inaugural address on May 29, 2023, President Tinubu declared that women and youths would feature prominently in his administration. He assured Nigerians that he would fulfil his campaign promise of creating more job opportunities in the country. He said he would remodel the economy to bring about growth and development through job creation, food security and end extreme poverty. The president said his administration would create meaningful opportunities for the youth and that he would honour his campaign promise of creating one million new jobs in the digital economy.

The icing on the cake from the President was his promise to allocate 30 percent of appointments in his government to youths. Given his reputation as a talent spotter and nurturer, he left no one in doubt about one of the strategies he intended to use in turning around the fortunes of the country’s dwindling economy.

President Tinubu appears determined to fulfil his campaign promise of youth inclusion. Under his leadership as the 16th president of Nigeria, an unprecedented number of young people have been appointed to key positions where they can influence government decisions. Although the age definition of youth may not permit us to be very specific about numbers or percentage of youths in Tinubu’s administration, it can be said that he has appointed more youths than any civilian President before him. One publication identified up to 24 ministers, aged between 30 and 50 years, among the 48-member Federal cabinet. This is beside the legion of youths in other government departments and agencies.

These young men and women, all of them leading professionals in different fields, have been investing their energy, creativity, and passion in driving positive changes across various ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) of the Nigerian government. They are working assiduously to actualize the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Tinubu.

The Top10 magazine has taken a close look at how this category of Tinubu’s appointees have performed in the last eight months since their assumption of office, using 49 as the upper age limit in our definition of youth. We found that many of them are deploying as much zeal and industry to public service as they did in their previous career duties.

As is our tradition, the magazine has identified and picked out for celebration 10 of them whom we consider as the best performers in the category. They include: Prof. TerlumunUtsev(Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation),ShuaibuAbubakar Audu(Minister of Mines & Steel Development),Charles Odii(Chief Executive Officer, SMEDAN), and Khalil Suleiman Halilu(EVC/CEO, NASENI).

Others are:Bamanga Jada(Managing Director, OGFZA), Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo(Minister of Interior),Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim(Minister of youths),Hanatu Musawa(Minister of Arts & Creative Economy),Bosun Tijani,(Minister of Communication and Digital Economy), and Bisoye Coker-Odusote(CEO,National Identity Management Commission).

We took a peep into their personal and professional/career history and profile their accomplishments so far with respect to the attainment of the goals of President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

That is our offering to mark President Tinubu’s first year anniversary celebration. What you will read in the following pages will definitely renew your faith in the youth and future of Nigeria.

Bamanga Usman Jada: Managing Director and Chief Executive, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA)

    Bamanga Usman Jada is one of the young top-notch technocrats appointed by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu into key positions to drive his Renewed Hope Agenda. At just 41, Jada has emerged as a beacon of hope and a harbinger of change in Nigeria’s dynamic oil and gas industry. His appointment as the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA) in October 2023, has heralded a new era of innovation, sustainability, and inclusive growth. His visionary leadership, coupled with a profound understanding of the industry’s challenges and opportunities, have instilled a renewed sense of optimism and dynamism within the sector.

    Jada’s relentless pursuit of excellence and his unwavering commitment to fostering a culture of transparency and accountability have laid the groundwork for a transformative journey that promises to redefine Nigeria’s position in the global energy landscape.

    On assumption of office about eight months ago, Jada immediately hit the ground running. He rolled out a 7-point agenda with which to govern and administer the Authority, drawing from his wealth of knowledge in civil service administration, financial procedures, international financial reporting standards (IFR) and public sector accounting with determination to fulfil the mandate of the Authority. The 7-point agenda was designed to foster economic growth and development as well as job creation, focusing on Efficiency and Trust, Infrastructure Excellence, Regulatory Modernization, Local Content Empowerment, Sustainability and Resilience, Investor-focus and Welfare. This agenda aims to propel OGFZA and Nigeria at large into a new era of prosperity and opportunities. Within the short period of steering the ship of OGFZA, Jada has exhibited exemplary foresight that is capable of rapidly bringing into reality the revitalization of the nation’s economy, thus fast-tracking the achievement of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Tinubu.

    Under Jada’s leadership, the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority has witnessed notable achievements such as the establishment of new oil and gas Free Zones and attraction of investments. One of the new Free Zones is the Secured Bunkering Anchorage (SBA), Lagos. Established in 2023, SBA is the OGFZA initiative involving the declaration of a specific offshore location as an Oil and Gas Free Zone Safe Bunkering Anchorage (SBA) where ships of various sizes that transport crude, refined petroleum products, drilling and ancillary equipment/tools from various offshore project locations within the Gulf of Guinea and sub-Sahara Africa sub- region, can berth to replenish their fuel stock and carryout other STS transfer activities under Free Zone regulatory framework.

    Another new free zone established by OGFZA under Jada’s leadership is the Orasi Special Energy Zone in Oguta Local Govt Area of Imo State. It was declared open by President Tinubu in January 2024. It is the largest Oil and Gas Free Zone sitting on a parcel of land measuring over 140,000 hectares with a huge gas which cuts across Ohaji/Egbema and Oguta areas of Imo state. The Zone will operate as international gas centre for downstream investment in gas-based manufacturing and power sub-sectors of the Nigerian economy. It brings to eight the number of free zones under OGFZA regulation.

    The OGFZA helmsman, Jada, has been actively working towards mobilizing its free zones to achieve a turnaround and development of the Nigeria’s economy.

    Under his leadership, OGFZA has attracted investment value of over $30bn and capable of securing 3 million jobs into the country through the Special Economic Zones.

    The Brass Oil and Gas Free Zone in Bayelsa, has secured a $3.6bn investment commitment through the Brass Fertilizer and Petrochemical Company. The proposed project, will include building a dedicated gas processing facility with a capacity to produce 340 million scuffs per day, 36km of 28 inches pipeline, a methanol plant, an SBA export jetty, a construction jetty, and a residential area. Between the commencement and completion of the project, over 20,000 jobs will be generated.

    OGFZA’s newest Zone ORASHI Special Energy Free Zone in Imo State, houses the Egbema Power plant with the capacity to generate 112.8mw of electricity. This power hub is expected to generate $1,97billion annually in revenue for the Nigerian Government. Orashi Special Energy Free Zone has potential of attracting investment worth $8bn Foreign Direct Investment.

    Recently, NESGAS Producing Nigeria Ltd, a gas producing company, launched a 50,000mt LPG storage facility worth $200m at the Onne/Ikpokiri Oil and Gas Free Zone in Rivers State. The LPG depot project has the capacity to generate over a million jobs.

    APM Terminals, Nigeria’s largest container terminal, has recently completed a state-of-the art project in Onne worth over $100m, which has the capacity of creating over 300,000 direct jobs.

    The Alternative Petroleum and Power Limited (APPL) is a green company which is bringing green/alternative fuel to mitigate carbon emission with an investment value of over €8bn.

    Additionally, APPL is expected to export 520,000 MT/Y of Blue and Green Methanol; and 1,120,000 MT/Y of Green Ammonia in a span of 4 years. This investment will generate about 300,000 jobs directly and indirectly. Aligning with global trends towards sustainable energy solutions, this program taps into Nigeria’s enormous natural gas reserves.

    It is interesting to note that the Oil and Gas Free Zones (OGFZs) have attracted all major International Oil Companies (IOCs) which use the Free Zones as hubs for their business transactions covering the entire Gulf of Guinea up to Angola and South Africa.

    The attraction of these investments has also led to the transfer of skills and technology to the nation through manpower, training and value-added technical processes, positioning Nigeria as the preferred investment destination in Africa.

    A native of Adamawa State, Jada attended Jada 1 Primary School and General Murtala Mohammed College, Yola, for his primary and secondary education, respectively, obtaining his SSCE Certificate in 1999.

    He pursued his university education at the prestigious Federal University of Technology Yola, where his exceptional academic performance garnered him recognition and numerous accolades. Here, he obtained a Diploma in Business Administration (2004) and subsequently a Bachelor’s Degree (B.Sc) in Economics (2008).

    He proceeded to the University of Central Lancanshire, Preston United Kingdom, where he acquired a Master’s Degree (M.Sc) in Oil and Gas Operations Management (2013) as well as an MBA in Marketing, solidifying his expertise in the intricate economic dynamics of the energy sector.

    With an impressive educational background, Jada embarked on a professional journey that propelled him to the forefront of the Nigerian oil and gas industry. He began his career with Ecobank PLC in 2009 where he developed acute corporate financial management skills. These attributes were of great benefit to the Energy Commission of Nigeria, where he served in the Finance, Projects and Procurement Departments, respectively, from 2010 to 2023.

    As a result of his dedication to service, meticulous nature, problem-solving ability and versatility, Jada was sought after to take on another role as the Personal Assistant to the Director General/CEO of the Commission. He has also served as Personal Assistant to the Chairman of the Board of Directors at Kano Electricity Distribution Company (KEDCO); roles that further equipped him with hands on administrative know-how and leadership experience.

    Jada, is an affiliate of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, United Kingdom. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Diplomacy and Management, Nigeria.

    Jada’s credentials exemplify his comprehensive understanding of the complex interplay between economic, technological and environmental factors within the oil and gas sector. His strategic insights and in-depth knowledge have equipped him to take the proper steps in navigating the intricate challenges facing the industry, fostering a culture of continuous improvement and collaboration among key stakeholders. His leadership philosophy, characterized by a combination of pragmatism and forward-thinking vision, has positioned him as a beacon of change in an ever-evolving energy landscape.

    As he continues to make significant strides in the field, his prospects for transforming the oil and gas industry in Nigeria remain exceedingly promising. With his exceptional leadership acumen, extensive industry knowledge, and unwavering commitment to innovation, Jada is poised to drive substantial advancements that not only elevate the sector’s global competitiveness but also contribute to the socioeconomic development of Nigeria. His vision for a more diversified, environmentally conscious, and technologically adept energy landscape is set to pave the way for a thriving and sustainable future for Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, ensuring a more robust and interconnected landscape that is better equipped to navigate the complexities of the global energy market.

    As Nigeria embraces this new dawn in its oil and gas sector, Jada’s transformative leadership stands as a testament to the country’s unwavering commitment to sustainable development, technological advancement, and global competitiveness. With his visionary leadership and unwavering dedication to excellence, Jada continues to inspire a sense of purpose and optimism, setting the stage for a more prosperous and resilient future for Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.

    Charles Odii: Director General/CEO, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN)

      Charles Odii, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), is a creative and solutions-driven entrepreneur and inventor with extensive international experience in technology, marketing and Media.

      He began to distinguish himself in entrepreneurship quite early in life. He founded his first business at the age of 17 and has since focused on encouraging young individuals to start early and grow sustainable businesses. Odii is the publisher of the, an entrepreneurship and business magazine.

      His global work experience covers impact investment, financial services, pharmaceutical, education, entertainment, manufacturing, aviation, retail, fashion and technology consulting.

      Odii is the founder of SME100Africa – a social enterprise, with the aim of ensuring African entrepreneurs succeed regardless of their socio-economic background – which has grown to provide over one hundred thousand African Small and Medium Enterprises with access to finance, markets, capacity development, mentorship, networks, skills, resources and most importantly information.

      With this rich background, there is little wonder why President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, a leader reputed for making appointments based on the proverbial round-peg-in-a-round-hole, went for Odii, now in his 40s (Please, confirm. I can’t find any record of his age anywhere), as the CEO of SMEDAN.

      When he assumed office on October 13, 2023, he was very much on a familiar turf and, therefore, hit the ground running. Odii introduced a seven-point prosperity agenda focusing on providing SMEs with access to finance, markets, capacity building, partnerships, a business-friendly environment, and streamlined processes for sustainable growth. He also set up  a National Council on SMEs, launched and chaired by the Vice-President, Senator Kashim Shettima, with SMEDAN serving as its secretariat. The Council uniquely positions the agency to drive policy changes and facilitate inter-governmental collaboration for strategic SME investments.

      Within just three months under Odii’s leadership, the agency was able to achieve key milestones. He implemented reforms incorporating digital and data-driven approaches to address challenges hindering SME growth and foster prosperity. The accomplishments align with President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda for inclusive economic growth and poverty eradication.

      Odii’s success has distinguished him as a key contributor to the administration’s goals, impacting grassroots communities and laying the foundation for rapid rural industrialization, a crucial solution to Nigeria’s economic challenges.

      One of SMEDAN’s initiatives under Odii in the area of job creation and funding is the N5 billion loan fund. SMEDAN secured a groundbreaking agreement with Sterling Bank, unlocking a N5 billion fund at single-digit interest rates to empower businesses. Over 200,000 applications were received and subjected to due diligence preparatory to disbursement.

      Another job creation and funding initiative is the SMEDAN Matching Fund Agreement with Anambra and Enugu State Governments. Collaborating with the two state governments, the agency injected N1billion into MSMEs in each state under a matching fund agreement.

      Yet another job creation and funding initiative was the introduction of the Conditional Grant Scheme (CGS). It revitalized economic activities at the grassroots level with a cash injection of N50,000 into nano businesses, creating jobs with the condition that they hire one more person.

      The agency, led by Odii also introduced a number of innovative programmes and facilities to raise the efficiency and effectiveness of SMEDAN’s operations and businesses of MSMEs. One of them was the creation of the Green Energy and Climate Change Desk to address environmental challenges impacting businesses, supporting displaced businesses and promoting the adoption of green energy solutions. It also commissioned its state-of-the-art Head Office Complex equipped with modern work hubs. The office houses dedicated staff and featuring facilities such as a textile and garment hub for fashion businesses and a woodwork and furniture facility for aspiring artisans.

      The agency also launched the SMEDAN Undergraduate Internship Programme (SUIP) in commitment to early entrepreneurship readiness. The programme provides students with real-world business experience and resources to start, continue, and scale. Baze University served as the pilot ground, with more universities set to partner with the agency to execute the programme.

      Recognizing the pivotal role of women in SMEs, a dedicated desk known as the Women and Youth Desk, was created to provide direct access to opportunities designed for women entrepreneurs.

      The Odii-led SMEDAN has also introduced support services for SMEs through the establishment of an MSME Clinic. It is a weekly initiative connecting SMEs with resources and knowledge needed for growth. Entrepreneurs, regulators, and experienced SME development professionals collaborate to provide mentorship and solutions, creating a one-stop shop for SMEs.

      An internal culture reform and digital transformation is now taking place at SMEDAN, courtesy of Odii. The cultural reset within the agency is aimed at fostering creativity and teamwork, accompanied by a digital transformation empowering staff with tools and training for greater productivity and progress tracking. The agency has launched various social clubs to promote a healthy lifestyle, enhance productivity and focus, and instill a sense of shared mission.

      Continuing its data-driven approach for impact, the agency is set to commence a nationwide small business census to create a credible and comprehensive database of SMEs in the country and enhance the quality of its interventions.

      Born to Mr. and Mrs. Charles Odii in Ikeja, Lagos State, Nigeria, the SMEDAN MD/CEO grew up with his six siblings. He earned a BSc in Management Information Systems from Covenant University and an MSc in Marketing and Communication from Pan Atlantic University.

      Odii started his career in business development at Rocket Internet before becoming the chief operating officer of Red Media Africa. Before starting SME100 Africa in 2014, Odii, along with others, co-founded Bilateral Data & Communications, a company that is involved in marketing and providing services like advertising, research, public relations, and marketing to different industries like investment, finance, pharmaceuticals, entertainment, manufacturing, aviation, distribution, fashion, and technology consulting.

      In 2017, Odii worked as a media consultant for the Internal Revenue Board of both Delta and Imo State Governments.

      Odii started SME100 Africa, a special organization with a mission to assist entrepreneurs in Africa. They help both those who are already in business and those who want to start by giving access to money, markets, mentors, teaching, and useful information. With the help of SME100 Africa, Odii has given training to around 10,000 young people in Nigeria, teaching them the skills they need to start and run businesses.

      The company has partnered with big international organizations like the US State Government and Google. Odii is really passionate about helping others explore and pursue entrepreneurship.

      That is the passion he has taken to SMEDAN.

      Shuaibu Abubakar Audu: Minister of Steel Development

        The Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited is a metaphor for the entire Nigerian steel industry – huge in potential but empty in delivery. The Federal government-owned company was conceived and built to be the stimulus for the steel industry which is supposed to be the bedrock of the country’s industrialization. But, for forty years, the steel company, built to completion, has been lying fallow, producing no iron and starving Nigeria of the needed iron and steel inputs for industrial development.

        Determined to redress the situation, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu decided to make steel development a key focus of his Renewed Hope Agenda. He created the Ministry of Steel Development out of the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development and put a young man, Prince Shuaibu Abubakar Audu, in charge.

        The mandate of Prince Audu, 43, an investment, finance and assets management expert, as the Minister of Steel Development, is to breathe life into the steel industry and make it the nerve centre of the country’s industrialization.

        In less than one year in office Prince Audu has set off a chain of activities that have raised hope that reviving Ajaokuta Steel Company is not a mirage and making the steel industry the bedrock of Nigeria’s industrialization is possible. One of the first things he did was to undertake a tour of Ajaokuta Steel Company in Kogi state. The minister who was accompanied on the trip by the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mary Ogbe, Staff of the ministry, and some foreign investors, said that the visit was aimed at giving him first-hand knowledge of the problems stopping production in the company in a bid to proffer solutions.

        He explained that President Bola Tinubu was also interested in the resuscitation of the Ajaokuta Steel Complex by appointing him as the pioneer minister to show the world the importance of steel development to industrialisation.

        “We want to thank the President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, for having the vision to create a Steel Development Ministry. Over the past 40 years, we had the largest steel plant in Nigeria and one of the largest in West Africa which has not functioned but the President knows that in order to industrialise Nigeria, we have to get the steel industry working.

        “In line with the 8-point agenda of the ‘Renewed Hope mantra’ of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, one of the key elements are job creation, diversification of the economy and attracting foreign direct investment. If we are able to revitaliseAjaokuta, it will help us achieve this. This key point agenda will also help us eradicate poverty,” Prince Audu said.

        He disclosed that his ministry had put together two documents. One of them was a three-year plan for the revival of Ajaokuta Steel Company which would have a small and medium-term term plan.

        “Part of the things is the roadmap to designate the 24,000 hectares land of Ajaokuta an industrial park, to create a free trade zone that will further attract foreign direct investment. In addition to the three-year plan, the five-year plan would also seek to ensure the production of steel in other parts of the country.

        “My job is to try and ensure that all those typical issues that have held the plant from producing will be resolved. And by the first term of this administration, if we are able to produce some sheet of steel, it will be a significant achievement.

        “I have taken an extensive tour of the complex and plants, and there are lots of opportunities that, if we are able to unlock, we will be able to create over 500,000 jobs which will benefit Kogites and more importantly, Nigerians.

        “This will also guarantee that everyone benefits from the renewed hope agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu,” he said.

        The minister was also accompanied on the tour by potential foreign investors and experts who had shown interest in investing in the steel industry to unlock its potentials.

        He said the investors would carry out an advanced technical audit of the steel complex and its facilities to see what more was to be done.

        “I am being accompanied here today by investors who are ready to put their expertise to ensure that this steel company works. We have the Russians, Americans, Arabs and Chinese who are showing interest. They have come to show their desire to carry out an advanced technical audit to see what needs to be completed.

        “After my findings from here, we will forward everything to the President for his approval,” Mr Audu said.

        He explained that he began his tour of office at the Ajaokuta Steel Company and the Itakpe Iron Ore Mining Company Limited, the two places which host the biggest investment and deposit of Steel production and Iron Ore in Nigeria and West Africa, because of their significance to the development of the entire steel sector.

        Since that tour, Prince Shuaibu Audu has rolled out well thought out initiatives that are already putting the steel industry on the right path to revival. He has deployed undying passion and utmost creativity to ensure that the vision and blueprint of President Tinubu in the Ministry of Steel Development are realized. Prince Audu is exploring the possibility of securing up to $5 million funding from the World Bank to finance the 10-year roadmap for the steel and metals sector. He has also commenced discussion with Russia’s TyazhPromExport (TPE) Consortium, the original equipment manufacturers and developers of the Ajaokuta Steel Company Limited, to explore options available for reviving the company. This collaboration and partnership equally had another leg to it with the same mission of securing funding of at least $2 billion for the revamping of the same Ajaokuta Steel Company. The minister is also at the concluding stages of raising N35 billion (over $30 million) from local financiers for the revival of the Light Steel Mill (LSM) at Ajaokuta following earlier approval from President Tinubu to raise private financing.

        Prince Shuaibu Audu is working towards the establishment of a compressed natural gas (CNG) park at the Ajaokuta Steel Complex in order to tap into the N100 billion fund set-up by the federal government, as a major step to bringing back to life, the economically viable industry. He is at the forefront of making the federal government fast track efforts at reviving steel facilities and research centres in Jos, Plateau State and the National Steel Raw Materials Agency, Kaduna.

        Prince Audu understands the enormity and crucial nature of the office he is occupying, and understands that Nigerians are eager to see things work, hence his commitment to ensuring that the expectations of Nigerians are met. The Minister acknowledges the place of steel development in the economic rejuvenation of the country and wants to see that the steel sector plays that crucial role in the actualization of the Renewed Hope mantra of the federal government, thereby earning the confidence of the masses. He is building formidable goodwill for the President, and the federal government at large.

        Born to the family of the Late Prince Abubakar Audu, an astute banker and first civilian governor of Kogi State, Prince Audu obtained his Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) in Business Economics with a second-class upper from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom in 2001.

        He went further to acquire his Master’s degree in International Securities, Investment & Banking (ISIB) from the Henley Business School, University of Reading. Prince Audu bagged another Master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Oxford, United Kingdom.

        Following the completion of the mandatory National    Youth Service (NYSC), he began what is now a glittering 20-year-career in corporate and investment banking, as well as assets and pension funds management, with Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc in 2003 in the Global Market treasury division.

        By 2005, he became the Head of Investment Management Stanbic IBTC Pensions when the Pension Reform Act was signed into law by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Audu led the establishment’s efforts to set up Stanbic IBTC Pension Managers Limited which is currently the largest pension funds administrator in Nigeria. He eventually got promoted and appointed as the Divisional Head, Investment Management of the Group between 2008 — 2013.

        Afterwards, Prince Audu moved on to the assets management company of Stanbic IBTC where he rose to become an Executive Director of the subsidiary from 2013- 2023. Concurrently, he was also named by the board as the Chief Executive Officer of the venture capital, Stanbic IBTC Investments Ltd, and held the position from 2013-2023.

        During his 20-year-old career, he spent time working in several banks around the globe including Bank of New York Mellon in Boston and Credit Suisse’s global headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

        Burning with the desire to contribute to the growth and development of his state with the skills and experience he gathered in the private sector, Audu ran for the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship ticket in the 2023 primary elections in Kogi State.

        After the contest in which he came fourth, he ignored the option of taking legal action and threw his weight behind the party’s candidate.

        Bosun Tijani: Minister of Communication, Innovation & Digital Economy

          Bosun Tijani who will be 47 next July is one of the youngest, pioneer indigenous icons of Nigeria’s Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) sector. His appointment as Minister of Communication, Innovation and Digital Economy was an obvious recommendation by his distinctive pedigree in Nigeria’s indigenous ICT space. It highlighted President Tinubu’s reputation for appointing people to positions where they perfectly fit, based on their talent, competence and experience.

          The mandate of the ministry include facilitating universal, ubiquitous and cost effective access to communications infrastructure throughout the country; Promoting the utilization of ICT in all spheres of life to optimize the communications infrastructure – digital content creation, domestic software applications and the delivery of private and public services over the internet; promoting and facilitating the development of the ICT industry and increase the contribution of the ICT industry to GDP; and utilizing ICT to drive transparency in governance and improve the quality and cost effectiveness of public service delivery in Nigeria.

          Tijani’s antecedents adequately prepared him for the responsibilities of his ministerial portfolio. And so far, he has lived up to his reputation. In just his first 100 days in office, he rolled out an impressive list of achievements to show for his stewardship. In line with his vision, the Minister initiated groundbreaking programmes, notably the Three Million Technical Talent (3MTT) initiative which recorded 1.6 million applications from different demographics across the country within a month. Collaborations with IHS Nigeria and UNDP bolstered the programmes’ strength to show the potential and talents particular to young Nigerians.

          The programme which was one of Tijani’s earliest initiatives was co -created with stakeholders from within the ministry as well as external partners with expertise in training and funding.

          The Tijani-led ministry, in partnership NITDA, introduced the Startup Support and Engagement Portal, streamlining registration for startups and innovation hubs. The release of the White Paper on the National AI Strategy underscored the Ministry’s commitment to policy-driven advancements. A comprehensive mapping of 2,500 innovation spaces across Nigeria by the ministry signaled a concerted effort towards fortifying the nation’s digital landscape. The ministry also carried out enhancements in NigComSat’s platforms targeted at expanding connectivity, especially in underserved regions, reflecting the ministry’s dedication to comprehensive digital infrastructure.

          During the period, the ministry entered into noteworthy partnerships, exemplified by a $116 million financing initiative for the I-DICE programme and a global AI partnership of $100 million. These emphasized the ministry’s commitment to nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship. The launch of 100 AI jobs by Awarri AI in Lagos marked the commencement of an AI-driven entrepreneurial culture.

          The ministry’s active participation in global events, including the G-20 Summit and Nigeria-Saudi Investment Summit, affirmed Nigeria’s ambition to establish a prominent position in the global technology landscape. Initiatives like the Fourth Industrial Revolution Technology Application (4IRTA) platform showcased the Ministry’s dedication to leveraging technology for sustainable development.

          The ministry, under Tijani’s leadership has also launched #DevsInGovernment, described as “a community of the technology workforce of the Federal Government of Nigeria who are passionate about advancing technology and digital transformation in government”.

          The idea, he explained in an interview with African Business, is to get the buy-in of the public sector.

          “If they don’t know what you are trying to build, they can’t support you.”

          It also helps that the president, who appointed him without once meeting him before, understands the mission and is backing him. The goal is to integrate technology into the very fabric of Nigeria’s society and economy, leveraging it to solve problems, create jobs and build prosperity.

          Tijani sees Nigerian youth, who constitute about 60% of the 200 million population, as natural allies in the effort to build a digital economy. The plan is to equip these young people with the skills to make their way in the digital world.

          The Technical Talent Training programme, unveiled in October 2023, aims to train three million people as the first step. Tijani believes Nigeria has a good pipeline of talent that is motivated and proactive and can form a tech-enabled workforce with a global impact comparable to India, which offers a strong example of tech-enabled growth.

          According to him, what is important is to get academic institutions to buy into the mission and funding the research projects that will bring technology to life.

          “In my first four months as minister, we’ve funded 45 research projects in artificial intelligence. We are announcing another 10 demonstration projects in agriculture, because the president is quite bullish on agriculture. He wants us to cultivate half a million acres of land, so we are seeing the role that technology can play,” he explained in the interview.

          Artificial intelligence is, of course, front and centre in the digital conversation and Tijani feels that even if Africa was left out at the beginning, the continent can still catch up where it matters most.

          “In terms of what is actually there, we can leapfrog this application. I think African countries like Nigeria can use AI more efficiently than western countries,” he says, pointing to sectors like agriculture and public health, where from a starting point of “almost zero,” Africa can build out solutions without needing to first dismantle something already in place.

          “We’re also making sure that while we may be late to the frontier, we’re participating in global conversations around how it should be governed. We don’t have a choice. Once it is built, it is going to affect all of us.”

          The minister believes that Nigeria can become a strong global voice for AI data inclusion, and can also contribute on AI safety. He was a guest at the recent AI Safety Summit hosted at Bletchley Park by the UK government.

          Building local capacity also means local capital, something that even in deep-pocketed Nigeria is not quite flowing. This is in spite of the fact that in the last quarter of 2023, the tech sector accounted for 18% of Nigeria’s $500bn economy. Tijani attributes this to the structure of the start-up ecosystem: “We talk about them as if they are outside the sector, but they are part of it. So the startup ecosystem still misses out on getting integrated with the actual communication sector and I think once we do that… they can start to do good business, which will attract local investors and local money.”

          The minister said the federal government itself has embarked on its digitalisation drive. The task now, according to him, is to integrate the disparate systems into a comprehensive digital public infrastructure system. A holistic system will include a digital identification system and Nigeria’s Interbank Settlement System which, Tijani says, has more users than the more celebrated M-Pesa.

          “That’s what we are now doing. The goal is to build a system which will provide standards for technology solutions in government and also facilitate interoperability and data sharing among the different government solutions. Once we’re able to build that base foundation, it’s easier for us to start to digitalise different government operations.” As an investor, advocate and now regulator, Tijani’s faith in the power of technology is obvious.

          “I think we need to learn from fintech in Africa. There are massive opportunities for technology in education, for example. There is so much we can be doing with tech to support teachers. I think agriculture is also another area where we are sleeping on the power of digital technology. I’m hoping that before the end of the first four years, we can see another vertical that becomes really strong, as strong as fintech.”

          Tijani was born in Agege, Lagos, on July 20, 1977, and spent his formative years there before moving to Abeokuta, capital of neighbouring Ogun state, for his secondary education. In 1996, he went to University of Jos, Plateau State, where he earned a diploma in Computer Science before enrolling to study Economics, graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in 2002. He later obtained an M.Sc in Information Systems and Management from the Warwick Business School, United Kingdom in 2007.

          In 2023, Tijani earned a PhD in innovation and economic development from the School of Business, University of Leicester. His doctoral research focused on contributing to a better understanding of how the network perspective to innovation capacity could provide a contextually relevant framework for explaining the adoption and adaptation of innovation in developing countries. The study specifically offers an alternative path to how African countries could effectively organise their innovation ecosystems.

          Tijani has also been part of the Innovation for Economic Development executive programme at Harvard Kennedy School in 2013 as well as being a 2014 Draper Hills Fellow of the Centre for Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law (CDDRL) at Stanford University.

          Before CcHUB, Tijani worked with the International Trade Centre, Geneva, Switzerland as a Fellow, researching on trade development with particular emphasis on enterprise management development. During this period, he successfully led the development and deployment of a web-marketing and information services programme in Ghana between March and September 2006 and subsequently in Uganda and Kenya which recorded positive outputs. The programme was deployed in Ethiopia and later extended to South Africa and Tanzania.

          At Hewlett Packard, Tijani successfully managed the deployment of the ODel learning centre at the Africa Virtual University in Kenya and completed the deployment of the HP, IEEE and University of Ibadan telecentre in Nigeria. He also initiated and completed the deployment of the HP Micro-enterprise Acceleration Programme learning centre at the Lagos Business School in Nigeria and provided recognizable support to its deployment in Egypt and Morocco.

          Tijani later moved to Pera Innovation Network (PERA) in 2007 where he served as the European Innovation Manager. At PERA, he led the coordination of innovation agencies across Europe. In different capacities, he was responsible for managing the Pan-European Research Network of Universities participating in the Framework Programme 7 as well as the INNOTEX Project – a European Commission-funded project for the development of a cross cluster best practice platform for entrepreneurial innovation for the technical textile sector (United Kingdom, Spain, Estonia and Denmark).

          In 2010, Tijani co-founded CcHUB, a technology innovation centre dedicated to accelerating the application of social capital and technological innovation for economic prosperity. In the early years, he led a number of social technology projects including Lagos Innovation Hotspots and the i-HQ concept (the umbrella initiative for Yaba – the fastest growing tech cluster in Africa), which involved working with MainOne Cable and the Lagos State Government to lay fibre optic cables in the Yaba area of Lagos, accelerating the growth of the area into becoming the home of technology startups in Nigeria. Under his leadership, CcHUB has driven the growth of social innovation and influenced businesses and initiatives in different sectors including – environment (Wecyclers), fiscal transparency (BudgIT), e-commerce (Traclist), Healthcare (LifeBank), education (re-learn), wellness (Truppr) and transportation (GoMyWay), civic activity (GoVOTE), online and cybersecurity (SafeOnline), among others.

          His later work with CcHUB focused on the company’s expansion into other parts of Africa and positioning the business as a vital catalyst for the African tech ecosystem promoting collaboration, knowledge sharing, and the development of groundbreaking solutions to local and global challenges. This has been done in collaboration with a number of global partners and founders who have backed his work extensively.

          In addition to his ongoing work with CcHUB, Tijani is also actively involved in a number of initiatives within and outside the tech ecosystem.

          The young minister has served on the boards of several companies; was a member of a highlevel expert advisory group focused on advising the European Commission on how to mainstream research and innovation through Africa-Europe Cooperation; and was selected in 2017 by the African Leadership Institute to be a part of the prestigious Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship.

          Hannatu Musawa: Minister of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy

          The Ministry of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy is one of the few new ministries created last year by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to anchor his Renewed Hope Agenda. The new ministry came with another novelty: the appointment of a woman, a young woman at that, as its first minister.

          The appointment of Musawa, 49, a Nigerian lawyer, politician, and author from Katsina state, marks a pivotal moment for Nigeria’s art and creative industry. For the first time, the Nigerian government is not just acknowledging but avidly investing in the immense potential of the creative sector. And Musawa has taken the challenge head-on.

          Before the creation of Musawa’s ministry, the Nigerian creative industry had already shown significant potential and growth, as evidenced by the rise of Nollywood film production, the global influence of Afrobeat music, and the increasing recognition of Nigerian contemporary art. Since 2015, the industry has been tipped as a burgeoning revenue generator for the country. In 2021, the value, as stated by the former Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, was around $4.5 billion, a figure that has nearly doubled today.

          The surge in the value of the creative sector underscores the timely and crucial nature of Musawa’s role. There is a palpable sense of anticipation and hope as to how government involvement under her stewardship will further catalyse this sector.

          In the few months that Musawa has spent in office, she has demonstrated that government, through her ministry, can do a lot to boost the fortunes of the creative industry. Already she has released an eight-point agenda that boldly aspires to position Nigeria as the world’s hub for creativity, culture, and entertainment. This strategic blueprint is not merely a set of goals; it’s a roadmap to revolutionise the industry. It promises to unlock job opportunities, forge foreign partnerships, cultivate local collaborations, and proudly parade Nigeria’s rich and unique national identity on both local and global stages. The agenda is a promise to elevate Nigeria’s economic standing through the power of creativity and culture.

          Speaking last August at the Art & Tech district in Abuja, Musawa said the 8-point plan, tagged ‘Destination 2030’ would actualise her vision of transforming Nigeria into Africa’s creative, cultural and entertainment capital.

          The plan includes the establishment of a Creative Economy Advisory Council with an aim to support the ministry with high-level strategic support. “A strong creative and cultural economy is a key driver of growth and presents an opportunity to accelerate Nigeria’s development on a local and a global stage,” she said.

          The minister described the creative economy as an economy of ideas, an economy of innovation, and an economy of invention in the digital age. “Our ambition is to elevate the Nigerian industries, comprising art, culture and creative industries to rank among the top 20 globally in terms of GDP contribution, wealth creation, employment, and poverty reduction in line with the agenda 2050.

          “Through innovative strategies, technological integration, and enhanced market access, our target is to increase the value of sectoral outputs by 50%,  in line with the 2021 to 2025 national development plan.”

          She added that part of the plan will also see to the preservation and sustainability of Nigeria’s cultural heritage. “Under the renewed hope agenda of the presidency, we will provide the tools needed to accelerate growth across all creative economy sectors. We will deliver job opportunities and foster foreign partnerships and local collaborations that proudly exhibit our rich and unique national identity on a local and global stage, and we will elevate our nation’s economic standing.

          “We have multiple initiatives and projects planned such as creative hubs, a Nigeria cultural expo, a national entertainment centre, a national art gallery, innovative publishing partnerships and a gaming sandbox project. We are building a global standard film festival, a culinary academy led by a Michelin star chef and a fashion foundry.” Musawa said she would also see to the retrieval of stolen national artefacts from abroad.

           “They are initiatives that we feel are very important for us to enact in a way that will enrich the lives of Nigerians. In a nutshell, what we want to do as a ministry is to add to the economy of the country. We want to be able to contribute at least $100 million by 2030. That’s a long term goal. In the short term, we want to add to the GDP and then we want to create jobs.

          “We have capacity building that is key. Nigeria has a lot of raw talents but it is really about nurturing and cultivating them. We have come up with those initiatives that will be able to encourage Nigerians in capacity building and everything that we do looks at sustainability. It is not about putting up structures now, it’s really about how sustainable they are.”

          One of the main areas where Musawa and her team find a great lacuna in the art and creative sector is the lack of strong legal framework. For example, copyright laws are not implemented so the ministry is looking at how it can strengthen those policies and tighten them.

          Musawa believes that infrastructure is key because, for now, Nigerian creatives have to go out of the country for them to find the sort of infrastructure that will allow them to operate in the way that they need to. She cites the likes of Burna Boy and Whizkid who are fantastic Nigerian artistes but who have to go outside of the country to get arenas to perform. ” “Infrastructure is key and you are going to see that we have to begin projects,” she said.

          The minister plans to provide an enabling environment for Nigerian creative artists. She intends to create artists hubs all over Nigeria, modelled after the Mad House UNILAG, an incubator/ hub founded by Bayo Omoboriowo. “We want to do a hub in different states in Nigeria that will give the people an environment where they can come and express themselves creatively. (Omoboriowa) has already done it. We have that template that we are going to replicate in every single state and eventually in every senatorial district. The musicians have already done the work so when we talk about the issue of destination 2030, we want to tap into those particular areas. It’s just about us sitting, talking, aligning and then giving them an enabling environment within Nigeria including the tax rebates and other waivers that will allow them to thrive.”

          Musawa also plans to facilitate a safe and secure environment for Nigerian artists in Nigeria. “They want tints on their car window screens because they are famous and they don’t want to go around with insecurity and the government will give them licence for it. Some things are just as simple as that. Government is willing to work with them through our ministry to provide them that environment that will let them flourish. When we talk about destination 2030, you want to project Nigerian productions like films. Funke Akindele has already done it. If I start talking about Kiss Daniel and Burna Boy we are not going to leave here.”

          Hannatu Musa Musawa was born on November 1, 1974. She is the daughter of Musa Musawa, a member of the radical leftist First Republic party, Northern Elements Progressive Union, and its successor in the Second Republic, Peoples Redemption Party.

          Young Musawa obtained her undergraduate degree in Law from the University of Buckingham in the United Kingdom. She then pursued two postgraduate Master’s degrees: one in the Legal aspects of Marine Affairs from the University of Cardiff in Wales, and another in Oil & Gas from the University of Aberdeen.

          Musawa has had a varied and successful career in different fields. She worked as a lawyer in private companies, providing legal counsel and representation in various matters. She has also specialized in marine affairs and oil & gas law, demonstrating her competence in these challenging areas.

          She was appointed by President Bola Tinubu in 2023, after serving as his Special Adviser on Culture and Entertainment Economy. She had responsibility for the promotion and development of the creative sector in Nigeria, as well as the preservation and display of the country’s cultural heritage.

          Musawa has been involved in Nigerian political affairs, both as a candidate and an activist. She contested for a legislative seat in the federal House of Representatives, aiming to serve her constituency and the public. She also served as a lawyer on the prosecution team in the 2003 presidential election petition involving Muhammadu Buhari and Olusegun Obasanjo.

          Khalil Halilu: EVC /CEO National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI)

          Khalil Suleiman Halilu, the Executive Vice-Chairman (EVC)/Chief Executive Officer of the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) is a living testament to the can-do spirit of the human being.

          The young man who grew upselling ice blocks to neighbours in a predominantly commercial environment with bright prospects of rising to the very top of a thriving family business had his mind fixed on an entirely different career trajectory. He worked hard at it and, today, has not only attained personal success but is now on the driving seat of his country’s aspiration to build its economy on the solid foundation of local technology.

          At the age of 23, Halilu founded and co-founded several ventures, including The CANs park, an eco-friendly tech hub in West Africa; and ShapShap, an on-demand delivery App. Halilu was barely 32 when, in September 2023, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu appointed him as the EVC/CEO of NASENI, an agency in the Presidency, to implement his Renewed Hope Agenda in the area of science, engineering and local technology development.

          The agency’s mandate include nurturing an appropriate and dynamic Science and Engineering infrastructure base for achieving home initiated and home sustained industrialization for Nigeria. The mandate of the Agency includes the development of relevant processes, capital goods and equipment necessary for job creation, national economic well-being and progress.

          When he assumed office at NASENI), Halilu disclosed that the agency’s projection was to lift 2.5 million Nigerians out of poverty within five years, through technology transfer and its various programmes. The anticipated outcome of technology transfer to Nigeria’s economy, according to him, includes reducing import bills by 25% to 37.4 billion dollars by 2030 through partnerships that would encourage the local manufacture of the top 10 highly demanded items.

          He said that the organization projects the generation of more than three million jobs by 2030 through focused technology knowledge transfer to 300,000 Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs).

          By facilitating access to technology and international markets for transactions, Halilu believes NASENI would transform Nigeria’s economy. According to him, the Agency is also building the capacity of SMEs by partnering with them to produce 35 of its market products, which was achieved within his six months in office. The products include electric tricycles, laptops, phones, lithium batteries, solar home systems, and solar irrigation equipment; three of the products have already been launched.

          According to NASENI’s boss, the manufacture of the products within a short period was made possible through the agency’s initiative of deploying existing structures and technologies of local SMEs as partners to accelerate the outcomes and address local needs. He revealed that while some products are already available in the market, others had been pre-booked for release later in the year.

          The four products came on the heels of the solar irrigation system, electric keke, electric motorcycle and solar-powered cargo tricycle which had earlier been unveiled during the Senate Committee on NASENI’s oversight visit earlier in the year. Halilu emphasized the growing demand for Nigerian National Brand products in the market. He underscored NASENI’s commitment to meeting this demand by ensuring its branded products reach consumers.

          He said that NASENI is partnering with the Rural Electrification Agency to deploy its renewable energy technologies, particularly solar resources, in rural communities aimed at illuminating the areas.

          The NASENI boss said that Nigeria could leverage its power challenges to develop solar energy technology as an alternative source of power, and also develop the minerals required for renewable energy transition such as Lithium, which the country possesses.

          He disclosed that the agency had signed an agreement with a Chinese firm to build a Lithium Iron plant worth 150 million dollars, as part of Nigeria’s efforts to meet the global upsurge in energy transition.

          NASENI is also working with local partners and has deployed at least 5,000 solar home systems in Nasarawa State with the aim of scaling up the intervention to other parts of the country.

          According to Halilu, the organization, under its National Tractor and Vehicle Recovery programme, is reviving 55,000 broken-down tractors which would also include converting them into cleaner energy of Compressed and Liquefied Natural Gas.

          The agency is also working to revive armoured personnel carriers and abandoned weapons, which was necessary to ensure they did not end up in the wrong hands.

          The CEO said that the organization had launched a special fund scheme called Developing Engineering Leaders through Her (DELT-HER), to encourage women’s inclusion in the engineering sector.

          In just over six months of steering the affairs of the agency, the NASENI boss has a long list of achievements to his credit. Some of them include the rolling out of 35 market-ready products; attraction of $2bn investment in Belt & Road conference as well as the establishment of a CNG conversion and training centre.

          The NASENI-Portland Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) Conversion, Filling, Reverse Engineering and Training Centre, a partnership between NASENI and Portland Gas Limited, was commissioned on May 31, 2024. The state-of-the-art facility for the conversion of fossil fuel vehicles to CNG, has the capacity to convert 15 cars every two hours, translating into 2,700 conversions every month. Halilu said at the commissioning: “By our calculations, if Nigeria is able to have 10 of this kind of facility in each of the 36 States and the FCT, we will be able to convert every vehicle in the country to CNG within one year.”

          President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, represented by the Senate President, Godswill Akpabio, who commissioned the Centre directed Federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) in the country to patronise technologies and products of NASENI to support Made-in-Nigeria goods and reduce importation.

          There is also the impressive Delta 2 technology transfer programme between Nigeria & Czech Republic, the initiation of internal reforms & rebranding, which helped to attract $150m investment for battery factory from UAE as well as kick-starting of the Irrigate Nigeria project, among others.

          Halilu said that NASENI under his leadership has achieved a significant milestone by signing MoUs with three Chinese organizations, a move worth billions of dollars in investments and projects. These strategic alliances with key Chinese organizations have been the bedrock of the drive to industrialize Nigeria by maximizing its full potential so that it can compete with the rest of the world in the commercialization of its products.

          According to the NASENI boss, this initiative, undertaken during the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Beijing, demonstrates NASENI’s commitment to fostering substantial advancements and collaborations in various sectors.

          Halilu also said NASENI and the Rural Electrification Agency (REA) have reached an agreement to deploy renewable energy technologies, particularly NASENI’s solar resources, to illuminate rural areas in Nigeria. This strategic collaboration aims to enhance electricity accessibility and supply in remote regions, contributing to the country’s sustainable development.

          To ease the housing deficits in the country, NASENI has signed a pivotal MoU, expanding its partnership with Family Homes Fund. This collaboration aims to advance modern and sustainable building designs for affordable housing solutions across Nigeria. The goal is to significantly reduce building material costs, enabling more Nigerians to realize their dream of homeownership.

          Halilu has also actively supported the agency’s initiatives aimed at empowering youths. Notably, NASENI empowered 200 youths in Imo State on electrical installation and maintenance. In addition, collaborative efforts with National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) highlight a mutual focus on developing local content, both human and material, to drive economic transformation.

          Halilu was born in Kano City, Kano state. He attended Rainbow Primary School in Kano from 1996 to 2001. He proceeded for his secondary school education at St. Thomas Catholic School in 2003 and completed it at Prime College in Kano in 2006. Halilu then enrolled at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom, where he obtained his bachelor of science degree in Business Administration in 2009, followed by a Master’s degree in International Business in 2010.

          After graduating from university, Halilu worked as an administrative clerk at Archimode& Associates. He completed his National Youth Service Corps in Abuja.

          He played a crucial role in developing the Zabe election monitoring system and founded the Center for Civic, Citizen’s Welfare And Community Development (CWCD Africa). Halilu is currently on the board of directors of Gongoni Company Limited and Scirrocco International Limited, where he served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) from 2010.

          Throughout his career, Halilu has held positions such as managing director at Khash Strategic Services Ltd. in 2014, Operations Manager at ZCET Global Meter Services Ltd. in 2017, and creative director and business developer at Africa Infotech Consultancy in 2015. He also started KSH Construction & Design Ltd. in 2014 and CWCD Africa in 2018. Halilu’s notable achievements include the establishment of the CANs park in Abuja, which provides workspaces, technical and strategic consultation, and social innovation matchmaking to startups and investors from across Africa. He also founded ShapShap Logistics, operating in Lagos and Abuja, with a focus on providing localized tech solutions.

          Halilu who is popularly known by the nickname “KSH” has a passion for polo and actively participates in polo tournaments and events. He contributes to the growth and development of the in Nigeria.

          Prof. Joseph TerlumunUtsev: Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation

          Prof. Joseph TerlumunUtsev is no stranger to senior government cabinet assignments. His appointment by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as the Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation was his second cabinet appointment after he had served in a similar capacity in Benue state as Commissioner of Water Resources and Environment.

          That marks out Prof. Utsev, 44, a civil and water engineer, academic, politician, philanthropist, entrepreneur, and administrator, as one of the young Nigerian professionals with extensive cognate experience that have been saddled with the responsibility of executing President Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

          The core mandate of Prof.  Utsev’s ministry is to develop a framework towards making the Water sector a pillar for food security, job creation, water supply, sanitation and hydropower as well as mitigate water-induced disasters like erosion and flooding in line with the President’s ‘Renewed Hope’ mantra. As expected, the minister felt at home in his new assignment. When he was the Benue state Commissioner of Water Resources and Environment, Prof. Utsev had contributed effectively towards tackling the hitherto perenial water scarcity in Makurdi, the state capital, and other communities in the state. His involvement in the design and influence on the construction of the Idye Basin Phase II drainage also showcased his commitment to improving the state’s erosion control infrastructure. Now, as the minister of Water resources, he has been drawing from that experience in discharging his responsibilities in the provision of water for consumption and irrigation agriculture, environmental sanitation as well as flooding and erosion control across the country.

          On assumption of office, the minister swung into action by addressing the challenge of underutilization of millions of irrigable hectares of land across the country. In a meeting with stakeholders shortly after assuming office, Prof. Utsev underscored the significance of irrigation farming in Nigeria’s agriculture development and its contribution to the nation’s food security and economic development. He, along with the Minister of State for Water Resources and Sanitation, Hon. Bello Goronyo, separately undertook a comprehensive tour of all irrigation projects under the 12 River Basin Development Authorities (RBDAs) across the country. Consequently, Prof. Utsev delineated about 500,000 irrigable hectares of land to engage in rapid dry season farming to meet up with and mitigate the rising cost of living and attain food sufficiency.

          He also initiated three new programmes designed to revolutionise Nigeria’s irrigated agricultural landscape, boost food security, create jobs and enhance economic growth. The new initiatives include Water for Expanded Irrigated Agriculture Programme (WEIRPRO), Partnership for Expanded Irrigation Programme (PEIRPRO), and River Basin Strategy for Poverty Alleviation (RB-SPA).

          He promised to introduce fresh perspectives through infusion of innovative measures into some of the flagship projects and programmes of the RBDAs. He explained that the initiatives were geared towards cultivating more irrigable lands, aggressively combating hunger, alleviating poverty and propelling economic growth.

          He said the ministry was strategically committed to innovative Water Resources Management aimed at promoting Integrated Water Resources Management and environmental sustainability, cultivate partnerships with State Governments and communities to enhance agricultural productivity, transitioning from traditional methods to a more scientific approach that guarantees all-year-round farming, more frequent cropping cycles and higher crop yields.

          He underscored the need for the adoption of advanced farming techniques to alleviate the workload on farmers and highlighted the importance of community engagement to optimise land use.

          He stressed the significance of training and capacity building, underlining the necessity for a robust tracking system for monitoring and evaluation.

          Utsev further stated that the principles of accountability, performance with tangible outcomes, rewards and consequence management. He, therefore, directed the 12 River Basin Development Authorities, the Department of River Basin Operations and Inspectorate and the Departments of Dams and Irrigation to formulate a comprehensive framework and strategies for implementing the three new programmes.

          On erosion control, Prof. Utsev has inaugurated the National Economic Council Adhoc Committee on Flood Mitigation, Adaptation, Preparedness, and Response. The Committee is charged with the responsibility to develop a roadmap to enhance Nigeria’s capabilities in flood mitigation, preparedness, adaptation, and response, informed by periodic updates from the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) and relevant MDAs in the disaster risk reduction sector.

          This was followed in April 2024 by the unveiling of the Annual Flood Outlook (AFO) by the minister. The report  indicated that 148 Local Government Areas (LGAs) in 31 States of the Federation were at risk of high flood, while 249 LGAs in 35 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) were within moderate flood risk areas.

          The report also highlighted that high flood risk were to be expected in the areas across three distinct seasons: April, May and June (AMJ); July, August, and September (JAS); and October and November (ON). The minister emphasized the need for the alignment of the AFO with the Presidential Agenda on Food Security, aimed at enhancing agriculture resilience among vulnerable communities by reducing exposure to climate-related disasters and leveraging the positive effects of flooding for sustainable growth and economic development.

          In the area of water and sanitation, Prof. Utsev has unveiled the Water Sanitation and Hygiene Committees (WASHCOMs) report which aims to guide the implementation of WASH services at the local community level.

          During the launch in Abuja, the minister emphasized the role of WASHCOMs in overseeing service delivery, promoting behaviour change, and ensuring the sustainability of WASH facilities. He highlighted the need for a framework for WASHCOM formation, training, and management to prevent breakdowns and promote sustainability in Nigeria, aligning with SDG targets 6.1 & 6.2.

          He explained that WASHCOMs are institutionalized at the community level to enhance community management and accountability.

          The launch signified a milestone in sustaining water supply, sanitation, and hygiene services nationwide, with a focus on expanding access and quality services at the community level across all Local Government Areas.

          Prof. Utsev has also stated his commitment to giving priority to underserved communities in its WASH programmes. Speaking during the launch of WASH for Health and celebration of the 25th anniversary of Self-Help Africa, recently, the minister said that in collaboration with dedicated organisations and community champions, his ministry had made significant strides towards achieving the Federal Government’s Open Defecation Free (ODF) targets and improving overall sanitation standards.

          “The FCDO-supported WASH for Health (WS4H) Programme when brought on board will act as a crucial catalyst in this journey, enabling us to strengthen our WASH systems, enhance community engagement, and empower local stakeholders to be the driving force behind sustainable change,” he stated.

          Utsev, who maintained that the unveiling of the programme would help the government to look well into the future, reiterated the ministry‘s steadfast commitment to building upon the successes already achieved.

          “In the years ahead, we will continue to prioritise the expansion of equitable and irrepressible WASH services, with a particular focus on underserved communities.

          He said his ministry would work tirelessly to ensure that every household, school, and health facility in the country has access to safe, reliable, and sustainable WASH infrastructure.

          He said that together, with the support of government’s “international partners and the unwavering determination of our people, we will write the next chapter of our WASH success story, paving the way for a healthier, more prosperous future for all.”

          Engr. Prof. Joseph who hails from Benue State obtained a Bachelor of Engineering Degree in Civil Engineering from the Federal University of Agriculture (now JOSTUM), Makurdi, graduating as the best student in 2004 with a SecondClass Honours (Upper Division). His passion for knowledge led him to pursue higher education, earning both a Masters and PhD in Water Resources and Environmental Engineering from the prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 2007 and 2011, respectively.

          He served as the Deputy Director and later as a full Director in the Centre for Entrepreneurship Development at the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi, (now Joseph Sarwuan Tarka University, JOSTUM) from 2013 to 2017. Prof. Utsev served as the Commissioner for Water Resources and Environment under Governor Samuel Ortom and was awarded the Best Honourable Commissioner in the Water/Environmental sector in Nigeria by Independent Assessors in 2018.

          In 2020, former President Muhammadu Buhari appointed him as the Executive Director of Engineering at the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority (LBRBDA), Makurdi.

          Until his appointment as minister of Water Resources, Prof. Utsev was the pioneer Rector of the Federal Polytechnic, Wannune, Benue State.

          He is a Registered Civil Engineer certified by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and the Nigerian Institution of Civil Engineers, among others.

          Tunji-Ojo: Minister of Interior

          Dr. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, clocked 42 years on May Day, 2024. At such a relatively young age, he has already logged intimidating credentials as a business management and Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) consulting professional.

          He has consulted for blue-chip organizations like the Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB), Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) (Management) Board, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), House of Representatives Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Nigeria Gas Company (NGC), National Petroleum Investment and Management Services (NAPIMS), Nigerian Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), World Bank, Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, Joint Admission and Matriculation Board (JAMB), National Film and Video Censors Board (NFVCB), National Health Insurance Scheme, Abuja (NHIS), Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), National Commission for Mass Literacy, Adult and Non-Formal Education (catch your breath).

          Obviously, it was this evidence of Tunji-Ojo’s outstanding professionalism that earned him a place in President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s heart and cabinet. He was one of the distinguished young professionals whom the President appointed into Federal ministries departments and agencies (MDAs) last year to execute his Renewed Hope Agenda.

          So far, Tunji-Ojo has lived up to expectations and professional reputation. Since assuming office as Minister of Interior, he has introduced unprecedented reforms, deftly steering the various agencies under his supervision towards a higher level of service delivery.

          One of his hallmark achievements is the commendable feat of getting the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) to swiftly clear an overwhelming backlog of 204,332 Nigerian Passports within a record-breaking three-week period, rescuing the nation from the grip of a dire national crisis.

          He had pledged to revolutionise passport processing, promising a two-week timeline, and the introduction of home and office delivery of Passports commencing in February, 2024. Tunji-Ojo introduced revolutionary user-friendly e-platforms for visa applications, allowing passport photo uploads via the immigration portal. This initiative has further streamlined the application process, fostering convenience and accessibility to the country’s travelling documents

          The minister unveiled enhanced e-passport facilities in key Nigerian embassies across Europe, a testament to his commitment to improving service capabilities for Nigerian citizens abroad, particularly in Spain, Greece, Austria, Switzerland, and Italy. This proactive stance on international relations also demonstrates his commitment to reciprocity in visa processes, challenging inequitable privileges granted to foreign nationals while championing the rights of Nigerian applicants.

          He has advocated for fair compensation for paramilitary officers and made a proposal for the establishment of a pension board for various security services, highlighting his dedication to ensuring better welfare and equity within the sector. His efforts signify a pivotal step towards aligning paramilitary salaries with those of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) to ensure fairness and equity.

          Hon. Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo’s tenure has witnessed an unprecedented promotion of 32,361 personnel across the Nigeria Correctional Service, Nigeria Immigration Service, Federal Fire Service, and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

          This move underscores the commitment of the #RenewedHope government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu in prioritizing the welfare of officers, a feat unprecedented in the history of paramilitary service in Nigeria.

          Tunji-Ojo showcased his resolve to decongest correctional facilities and commitment to rehabilitation and social justice through strategic partnerships and financial assistance. This facilitated the clearance of fines and compensations worth N585 million for 4,068 inmates, an evidence of his compassionate approach to criminal justice reform.

          His dedication to transforming correctional homes into centers of rehabilitation signifies a paradigm shift from punitive measures to holistic rehabilitation, fostering hope and redemption.

          In recognition of his sterling performances, he was awarded the “Public Service Person of The Year 2023” by the Leadership newspaper.

          According to Leadership, he was considered worthy for finding his way into the hearts of millions of citizens for whom obtaining or renewing the Nigerian passport had become a nightmare; for his bold, extensive and exceptional reforms tackling the perennial passport booklet debacle at NIS in less than five weeks into his assumption of office.

          In line with these accomplishments, Tunji-Ojo’s engagement with agencies, stakeholders, and international partners underscores his commitment to tackling illegal migration and organised crime, ensuring a safer and more secure nation.

          Tunji-Ojo’s reign as Minister of Interior so far stands as a testament to his unwavering dedication and transformative leadership. His outstanding performance as the Minister of Interior has also been acknowledged and even commended by the president.

          President Tinubu recently commended Tunji-Ojo for his transformative efforts in the areas of resolving the issue of passports issuance as well as repositioning the activities of Nigeria Immigration Service. The President’s encouraging remarks underscored the giant strides of Tunji-Ojo which will also serve as a catalyst for the minister to surpass himself.

          Tunji-Ojo’s accomplishments in a relatively short time is seen by many as a prelude to greater things to come in the coming years. He appears poised to elevate the Ministry of Interior to greater heights, fortifying the nation’s security and amplifying its role in shaping a brighter future for Nigeria.

          Born on May 1, 1982, in Ondo State, Nigeria, Tunji-Ojo’s early life was marked by an innate curiosity and a thirst for knowledge. His academic excellence led him to the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University), where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering in 2005, followed by a master‘s degree in Digital Communication and Networking in 2006.  He is a Certified Ethical Hacker, CEH, and CounterMeasures (2006) Britannia Training Academy, United Kingdom.Tunde-Ojo is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in International Relations, University of London.

          This solid foundation in engineering and ICT became the springboard for his future accomplishments. At just 24, he became the CEO of Matrix IT Solutions Limited, a leading indigenous ICT consulting firm in Nigeria. His expertise and innovative approach earned him recognition and respect, leading to consultations with prominent organisations like the World Bank, JAMB, and PTDF. His pioneering efforts in the oil and gas industry, particularly the 2016 Nigerian Content Workshop, showcased his ability to drive change and foster collaboration. His leadership and vision transformed the ICT landscape, empowering businesses and individuals alike.

          His entry into politics in 2019 marked a new chapter in his life. As a member of the House of Representatives, he chaired the House Committee on NDDC, spearheading a groundbreaking probe into financial activities within the commission.

          His commitment to transparency and accountability earned him the respect of his peers and the admiration of the public. His dedication to public service and leadership has attracted numerous awards, including an Honorary Doctorate Degree in Public Administration and the Sir Ahmadu Bello Platinum Leadership Award of Excellence.

          Tunji-Ojo’s leadership philosophy is rooted in empathy, compassion, and a deep understanding of the human condition. He has consistently demonstrated a willingness to listen, to learn, and to adapt, earning him the trust and admiration of his colleagues and the public. His dedication to public service, passion for innovation, and unwavering commitment to the welfare of Nigerians have made him a beloved figure and a shining example of leadership.

          Jamila Bio Ibrahim: Minister of Youth Development

            By assigning Dr. Jamila Bio Ibrahim the youth development ministerial portfolio, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has made it truly the ministry of youth by the youth and for the youth. Ibrahim was only 37 years old while the minister of state, Ayodele Olawande, was 34 at the time of their appointment in 2023, ranking them among the youngest members of the present Federal cabinet as well as, perhaps, the youngest ministers of youth.

            Ibrahim, a medical doctor, who assumed office on Oct. 16, 2023, made it clear that her focus would be on diligently preparing a strategy that the youth could not only believe in but also rely upon in line with the administration’s Renewed Hope Agenda. The ministry’s vision for the youth, under her leadership, she declared, was not just ambitious but revolutionary, encompassing education, skills development, and empowerment across various sectors. Her starting point was the rebuilding of trust through thoughtful planning, transparent communication, and the delivery of tangible, impactful programmes.

            Since assumption of office, Ibrahim has involved critical stakeholders within and outside the government to ensure the success of the President Bola Tinubu’s administration. In less than one year in office, she has  logged an impressive list of achievements. One of them is the putting in place of modalities for the launch of NextGen Bank in April 2024. The bank was conceived as a retail development financial institution, a joint initiative with the Bank of Industry, private sector, and development partners, dedicated to empowering youth and youth-led ventures.

            “It will provide grants, low interest loans, and equity investments, catalysing youth entrepreneurship in the agriculture, sustainable mining, green energy, sustainable mobility, blue economy, healthcare services, education and skill development, financial services, ICT and telecoms,” she explained.

            The minister has also laid out plans for the establishment of youth villages, in partnership with states like Niger, Katsina, and Ebonyi; conceived to be sustainable communities —both physical and virtual —focusing on regional economic strengths.

            The sustainable communities which will serve as hubs for economic, social, and political engagement, were expected to take off by the first quarter of this year. “This is apart from the planned rehabilitation of our Youth Development Centres across the country which will commence in earnest this year, 2024,’’ the minister disclosed.

            The minister has got deeply involved in efforts to address the challenges of insecurity and poverty in the land. She noted that the young people who constitute over 70 per cent of our population are at the heart of these issues. According to her, the  government’s significant expenditure on security and social intervention programmes could be more effectively channeled by providing opportunities for youths through education, empowerment, and engagement.  The National Youth Investment Fund (NYIF) originally designed to fund youth-led ventures, plays a pivotal role in that, according to the minister.

            She, noted, however, that NYIF had not fully met its objectives, prompting her to initiate a comprehensive review of the programme. She constituted a 13-member committee of experts to evaluate and propose a restructured and revitalised NYIF.

            ”The recommendations, which I plan to present for approval to the President, the Federal Executive Council, and, if necessary, to the National Assembly through a bill, will ensure the fund’s efficiency and impact.’’

            According to the minister, one of her foremost objectives is to secure a commitment of at least two per cent of the Nation’s Consolidated Revenue to be annually allocated to the NYIF.

            She said it would ensure a sustained and significant investment in the potential of the youth and, consequently, to the future of the nation. “I am convinced that an investment today will save the nation a fortune tomorrow; a stitch in time saves nine.’’

            The minister has also initiated reforms in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme, one of the major agencies under her ministry’s supervision. Ibrahim is redefining the NYSC scheme as a comprehensive empowerment platform, focusing on employability and entrepreneurship to ensure graduates transition into dignified employment or entrepreneurial ventures post service.

            She has also initiated a skills programme for non-graduates and at-risk youths–extending the skill development mode of the NYSC programme. The minister explained that the initiative was aimed at empowering young Nigerians lacking formal education or skills.

            Another significant stride by the minister towards cultivating a new echelon of visionary leaders is the Young Leaders’ Institute, which she is promoting. “We are announcing the inception of the Young Leaders’ Institute; modelled on the prestigious Aspen Institute; this initiative is uniquely tailored to the Nigerian context, offering an elite platform for leadership development. Admission to the Institute is a mark of distinction as it is solely by invitation.’’

            According to her, the institute is more than an educational programme; it is a transformative journey that prepares the brightest young minds to lead with innovation, ethics, and a profound understanding of global challenges.

            “As we launch the Young Leaders’ Institute, we invest not just in individual leaders but in the future of Nigeria and the world.

            The Institute is scheduled to commence this institute in the 3rd quarter of 2024, with an inaugural abridged fellowship programme mostly for existing young Nigerians serving in government across the country. It will start bringing in participants from outside of government in 2025.

            The minister has also proposed a mandatory 30 per cent youth quota in government appointments. This is seen as a landmark move towards empowering the youth and integrating them into the fabric of the nation’s governance and policymaking. “I am thrilled to announce the proposal of a 30 per cent youth quota in all government appointments,” she told pressmen. “This initiative, which I have presented to Tinubu, is designed to ensure that the voices, ideas, and energies of our youth are not just heard but are actively shaping the future of Nigeria.

            “The youth represent the vibrant heart of our nation, and by embedding them within the decision-making processes of our government, we are not only acknowledging their importance but also harnessing their potential to contribute to national development,” she said.

            The minister explained that the quota is crucial in reducing the gap between government and youth, addressing national security challenges through positive engagement, and building a governance structure representing the nation’s diverse and dynamic population. Ibrahim said she was committed to seeing that the proposal became a reality; marking a new era of youth empowerment and participation in the country.

            Another initiative of the Youth Development ministry under Ibrahim’s leadership to equip young Nigerians with valuable skills is the Nigerian Youth Academy (NiYA). Spearheaded by the Minister of State, Olawande, this initiative seeks to ensure that every youth in Nigeria has, at least, two skills. Code-named “One youth, two skills, NiYA provides millions of young individuals across the country with access to a growing collection of online classes that can be taken at their own pace, from any location, and at any time.

            Through the NiYA platform, participants have the opportunity to connect with subject matter experts in real-time, enabling them to enhance their learning experience on-the-go. This interactive approach allows for practical engagement and the development of essential skills for personal and professional growth.

            Moreover, NiYA offers a digital community where participants can stay up-to-date on various opportunities and information relevant to boosting their careers and entrepreneurship prospects. The platform creates a space for networking, ideas sharing, and fostering collaborations among young Nigerians who are eager to make a positive impact in their respective fields.

            Jamila Jummai Bio Ibrahim was born on February 7, 1986. Her father is Ibrahim Isa Bio, from Baruten LGA, Kwara state, who was a minister under the late President Umar Musa Yar’Adu’a.

             Little Jamila Ibrahim attended NEPA Staff School in New-Bussa, Borgu LGA, Niger state, for her primary education. She proceeded to Federal Government Girls’ College, Bwari, Abuja, where she had her secondary education, and graduated in 2002.

            She obtained a Bachelor of Medicine, and Bachelor of Surgery (M.B.B.S) from the University of Ilorin in 2010, and moved to the University of Washington for a six-month course on health management and leadership.

            After her brief study stint in the US in 2017, Jamila Ibrahim established a non-governmental organisation (NGO) named Yon Seno Foundation in November of that same year. She was then named a member of the think-tank of the national policy summit in 2017.

            She volunteered on the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative (PCNI) established by former President Muhammadu Buhari to serve as the primary national strategy, coordination and advisory body for all humanitarian interventions, and transformational and developmental efforts in the region.

            Ibrahim worked with the PCNI for two years and “carried out an assessment of the major health facilities in Maiduguri, to ascertain the level of preparedness and identify the gaps in terms of manpower and mass casualty response. Shortly after that, she was named the secretary of the subcommittee on health, women affairs, population and environment of the transition committee of AbdulRahmanAbdulRasaq, Governor of Kwara, in 2019.

            After completing her assignment in AbdulRasaq’s transition committee, Ibrahim was appointed the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) a year later. She became Kwara’s focal person for both the National Human Capital Development Programme and the African Union Development Agency-New Partnership for Africa’s Development (AUDA-NEPAD).

            She was also the Secretary of the Kwara state “tractorisation” programme and was thereafter named the National Vice President of the All Progressives Congress Young Women Forum (APC-PYWF) in June 2021.

            Ahead of the 2023 elections, Ibrahim was appointed a member of the APC Presidential Campaign Committee on Sustainable Development.

            The minister is an avid fan of Polo and a non-executive director of the Emirates Equestrian Club, Ilorin.

            Engr. Bisoye Coker-Odusote: Director-General National Identity Management Commission (NIMC)

            Engr. Bisoye-Odusote, Director-General, National Identity Management Committee (NIMC), who marked her 40th birthday on April 26, is one of the outstanding young female Nigerian professionals driving the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to fruition.

            Before her appointment to the Commission, Coker-Odusote was the General Manager/Chief Executive Officer of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA). Her mandate at LASIMRA involved managing key utility infrastructure providers – telecommunication, power, and gas operators – to promote standards and procedures in infrastructural development and maintenance, reducing damage to public utilities whilst fostering collaboration amongst the stakeholders in improving public safety and transforming Lagos state to a smart city.

            Her innovative work at LASIMRA was impactful within the utility infrastructure space and well acknowledged amongst its stakeholders and the public. This earned her recognition as one of the value-driven CEOs of excellence that powered Nigeria’s economic growth in 2022 based on LASIMRA’s contribution to digital infrastructure.

            Coker-Odusote has carried that knack for excellence to NIMC. Since she assumed duties less than a year ago, the commission has undergone a profound evolution, embracing cutting-edge technologies and pioneering innovative solutions to address the challenges of identity verification and authentication in the country. Coker-Odusote has not only achieved extraordinary milestones but has also set new standards of excellence in the field of identity management.

            Coker-Odusote has taken steps to streamline National Identity Number (NIN) registration processes, while addressing the long-standing challenges associated with identity registration in Nigeria. She is handling this through strategic restructuring and the integration of advanced technologies with a view to significantly reducing waiting time and enhancing the overall efficiency of the system.

            Today, Date of Birth and other kinds of modifications at NIMC happen within 48 hours. The several years backlog of Date of Birth modifications she inherited have been cleared, as she gave a one-month deadline for the same to relevant staff of the Commission. Responses to issues and complaints, such as those whose National Identity Numbers did not hit the NIN Verification Portal are now resolved within 24 hours.

            The NIMC CEO has taken steps to enhance data security by introducing robust measures to fortify the protection of citizens’ sensitive information. This includes, but not limited to the adoption of cutting-edge encryption technologies and the establishment of a dedicated cybersecurity team.

            Her interest in improving service delivery at NIMC has led her to introduce initiatives to ensure regular training and retraining of staff of the Commission, emphasizing customer-centric approaches, to ensure a more positive experience for citizens seeking identity services.

            Coker-Odusote, leveraging her extensive network and expertise, has forged strategic partnerships with governmental agencies, private organizations, and international bodies. These collaborations aim to enhance the NIMC’s capacity, foster innovation, and promote information sharing for improvements in identity management.

            Because of the pivotal role of technology in modernizing identity management, Engr. Coker-Odusote has spearheaded the integration of biometric advancements and artificial intelligence into the registration and verification processes. This not only improves accuracy, user experience and ease of enrolment, but also positions NIMC at the forefront of technological innovation in identity management. A typical example is the NIMC Contactless Biometric Solution, which delivers a best-in-class fingerprint and facial capture image output quality, powered by Artificial Intelligence. The new solution was unveiled by the commission at the 2023 Identity Day, held in Abuja on September 16, 2023.

            Recognizing the crucial role played by the NIMC staff in achieving organizational goals, the CEO has developed for implementation, a robust welfare programme aimed at boosting morale and fostering a positive work environment. This includes, but not limited to training opportunities, health benefits, and performance recognition initiatives.

            Furthermore, in consultation with in-house experts, elaborate public awareness campaigns have been planned to ensure that citizens are well-informed about the importance and benefits of identity registration. These campaigns are expected to not only educate the public, but also serve to demystify the registration process, encouraging greater participation.

            The NIMC DG has concluded plans to take the ecosystem enrolment forward by taking steps to deepen collaboration with ecosystem implementing partners, supporting to ensure the success and optimal performance of the Nigeria Digital Identification for Development (ID4D) Project, a Nigerian Project jointly funded by The World Bank, The European Investment Bank, and the French Development Agency.

            Engr. Coker-Odusote’s strategic vision, commitment to efficiency, and emphasis on technological innovation has positioned NIMC for a future where identity management is not only secure but also seamlessly integrated into the daily lives of citizens.

            The NIMC DG has demonstrated her commitment to sanitizing the system, entrenching a culture of transparency and zero tolerance for corruption. Apart from putting systems and structures in place to discourage graft, she is directly involved in ensuring that the cankerworm has no place in the commission. Recently,  she paid an unscheduled visit to the Federal Capital Territory office of the commission, where she reportedly arrested some staff for allegedly extorting money from Nigerians for  enrolment which is a free service.

            Coker-Odusote’s leadership has led to unprecedented growth and progress in NIMC, significantly advancing the country’s digital identity infrastructure. One of Engr. Coker-Odusote’s most notable achievements is her relentless advocacy for the adoption of digital identity solutions, which enhance security, efficiency, and inclusivity. She has spearheaded groundbreaking projects aimed at expanding access to digital identity services, particularly in underserved communities.

            Under her leadership, NIMC has played a pivotal role in empowering millions of Nigerians with secure and verifiable identities, laying the foundation for a more inclusive and digitally enabled society. In addition, she has expedited the enrollment and distribution of National Identification Numbers (NINs) to all Nigerians and legal residents while also streamlining and integrating existing identity databases across the country.

            Engineer Coker-Odusote is a tireless advocate for inclusive identity management policies, recognizing the fundamental importance of ensuring that every Nigerian has access to secure and reliable identification. Her advocacy efforts have contributed to greater awareness and engagement on issues of identity management, paving the way for meaningful change and progress.

            Engr. Coker-Odusote, born in 1984, is a professionally trained tech enthusiast who has held roles that improved stakeholders’ engagements and execution of digital transformation projects.

            Her life and professional journeys have been extraordinary and remarkable. From humble beginnings to her current position at the helm of NIMC, she has overcome numerous challenges and obstacles with grace and resilience. Her story is a robust proof of perseverance and determination. It is a stark reminder that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.

            Her career history includes serving as the Head of Information Technology & Communication at Bate Litwin, an engineering company working on projects such as Chevron ESA (JV with Atlas). Prior to her stint at Bate Litwin, she had held several key positions in different companies, where she was responsible for information technology policies and systems implementation, project management and software development, across Nigeria and the United Kingdom. With her expertise and wealth of experience in information technology and data management, she has consulted for various entities on development and implementation of robust electronic identity database management systems.

            In 2021, she became the General Manager/Chief Executive Officer (GM/CEO) of the Lagos State Infrastructure Maintenance and Regulatory Agency (LASIMRA), which is charged with regulating utility infrastructure within the state. Before LASIMRA, she had served as the Special Adviser on Technology to Bola Ahmed Tinubu while he was Governor of Lagos state.

            As a tech advocate and visionary, she was the National Database Project Director for the All Progressives Congress (APC), showcasing her commitment to utilising technology for transformative purposes.

            The Director General of NIMC sits on the IT Data Network Limited board, amongst other key positions in Nigeria and abroad.  She has also founded a tech advancement initiative under The Bibi Coker Foundation that gives education grants to women studying Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM)-related degrees.