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Reflections with Biyi Ajibola

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RACE AND MEDIA REPORTAGE : JUSSIE SMOLLETT AND HIS CO-CONSPIRATORS

The recent ‘alleged’ attack (alleged, as there are insinuations he masterminded same for personal gains) on Jussie Smollett, a singer and thespian popularly known for his role as Jamaal, the gay son of Lucious Lyon on Empire, an awards winning series has once again brought to the fore, the elitist, supremacist and overtly racist tones, reportage of issues concerning Nigeria and its citizens the world over.

While allegations and counter allegations as regards the attack is being debated by the relevant security authorities in the Unites States of America, an issue that is worth discussing is the attackers and the perceived slant in the reportage as regards the nationalities of the men involved.

Olabinjo and Abimbola Osundairo, 2 American men of Nigerian descent were allegedly contracted by Jussie Smollett to carry out the said attacks on him and various evidence (including a copy of the cheque issued to the brothers by Jussie Smollett) are in the custody of the Police.

The reportage by the United States media of the attackers Nationality was skewed to the point where an image of the brothers just stepping off a plane from Nigeria weeks ago was painted while in reality, they were born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago with brief, infrequent visits to Nigeria.

This brings sharply to mind, the earlier moments of the ascension of Anthony Joshua into the limelights as the heavyweight champion of pugilism. AJ as he is fondly called was praised in the British media as a local boy who’ d done good for himself and his Nigerian descent glossed over.

Various opinions abound that Africa, Africans and Nigeria in particular needs to, as a matter of urgency, develop broader and better media platforms to counter the narratives from the Western media – Until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.

A country can only be as good as its best and its worst and Nigeria, currently regarded as the failing giant of Africa would keep being the butt of jokes until we pull ourselves by the bootstraps and kick start a reorientation campaign that should reach the ends of the world showcasing and dictating the tones and the narratives as regards Nigeria and Nigerians. Until then, God continue to bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

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20 Most Outstanding Nigerians in 2018

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compiled by Eminent Leaders Team led by Patience Iveren Kine

Aliyu A. Abdulhameed

Aliyu Abdulhamid MD NIRSAL

Aliyu A. Abdulhameed was appointed Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Leading (NIRSAL) on 23rd December, 2015.

Through a blend of technical competence, result focused leadership and passionate advocacy, he has energized the institution and achieved important initial milestones which have provided a strong foundation for realizing NIRSAL’s unique vision of transforming the agriculture sector through de-risking the agricultural value chain.

Under his watch, NIRSAL has attracted positive attention of respected global players in the agriculture sector including African Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) and other African countries like Rwanda, Liberia etc. Prior to his appointment Mr. Hameed served as Executive Team Member of NIRSAL when it was a Project Office under the Development Finance Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria.

In a career spanning over 22 years, Aliyu has deep and hands on experience in important sectors of the emerging African agriculture economy. For instance, as a staff of Kewalrams Afcot Group, pioneer backward integrators in the Cotton Textile Garment (CTG) value chain, he was part of the team that was instrumental to the creation of Olam, the No. 1 global commodity trader which links end to end value chains from primary production to industrial users of globally traded agric commodities. Later on as an entrepreneur, Abdulhameed also acquired practical experience in the provision of agricultural commodities and related services to a wide variety of clients.

Mr. Abdulhameed brings to NIRSAL strong experience in corporate agribusiness and deep expertise in the field of agricultural finance and risk management.

Since inception to date, NIRSAL has made significant impact in the agricultural financing and agricultural development space and has as its scorecard:

  • Facilitation of N84.25 billion from private sector financiers to the Agriculture/Agribusiness sector.
  • Provision of Credit Guarantees for 662 Agricultural projects.
  • Pay out of over N1.06billion as interest rebate to borrowers who paid back their loans in good time.
  • Training of 900,000 farmers across the country on best practice farming techniques and business management.
  • Provision of high quality agricultural inputs and affordable finance to more than 500,000 smallholder farmers under three (3) farming seasons from 2017 to 2018.
  • Development and launching of the Area Yield Index Insurance product – N5.4billion revenues of 25,000 farmers protected to date.
  • Less than 1% risk crystallization or claims pay out on funding catalysed achieved through NIRSAL’s smart, innovative and sustainable approach with NO recourse to the Federal Government of Nigeria for additional financing.
  • Growth of its N72.5billion seed capital debenture loan from the CBN to a total asset value of N136billion.
  • Support to the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) of the Federal Government, paying out a total of N4.8billion in claims on non-performing loans, to protect the government from embarrassment which is being gradually recouped from the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD).
  • 800 staff spread across well-equipped offices in all 36 states of the federation and the FCT, providing on-the-ground, real time monitoring, reporting and remediation as well as delivering extension services through agents in the 774 local governments in Nigeria
  • Roll out of innovative business models and interventions for Mechanization, Integrated agribusiness projects like Wheat and Livestock, Youth in Innovative Agribusiness, etc.

Partnering with CBN, Bankers Committee and NIPOST, NIRSAL under the leadership of Aliyu has successfully established the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank (NMFB) with operations in FCT and other six (6) pilot states of Enugu, Bauchi, Kaduna, Kogi, Rivers and Oyo States. The NMFB is expected to roll out in 47 more locations across the federation by May 2019.

  • Godwin Emefiele

Godwin Emefiele has been Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria since June 3, 2014. He was the CBN Governor by the past administration of Goodluck Jonathan and was reappointed by the APC led government of Muhammadu Buhari to serve for another for another tenure as CBN Governor.

He served as Chief Executive Officer and Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc. Emefiele served as Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc since 2001. He served as Executive Director in charge of Corporate Banking Treasury, Financial Control and Strategic Planning of Zenith Bank and has been on the management team since inception. He has over eighteen (18) years of banking experience. Emefiele served as director at Zenith Bank Plc and Zenith Gambia Limited.

Before commencing his banking career, he lectured Finance and Insurance at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, and University of Port Harcourt, respectively.

Emefiele serves as Director of ACCION Microfinance Bank Limited.

Godwin Emefiele, the former Zenith Bank Plc Chief Executive took up the mantle as the 11th CBN Chief, and its 10th indigenous governor. Emefiele, who replaced Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, whose tenure elapsed on June 1 brings to the job over 20 years of banking experience. He has held several strategic positions in his 18 years in the banking industry. He is an alumnus of Executive Education at Stanford University, Harvard University and Wharton Graduate Schools of Business.

His foray in CBN and the stability of the Nigerian economy cannot be overemphasized.

He was honoured by Forbes in 2017 with the ‘Best of Africa Achievement Award’.

In ensuring that SMEs are properly funded, he singled out NIRSAL in the formation and establishment of the NIRSAL Microfinance Bank which is designed to improve access to credit and the technology that would be used by financial technology experts.

  • Pius Adesanmi

Pius Adesanmi, was a Nigerian-born writer and Canadian Professor who taught at Carlton University in Ottawa, Ontario. He was one of Nigeria’s leading public intellectuals and an internationally acclaimed author.

In 2010, he won the inaugural Penguin Prize for African writing in the non-fiction category with his collections of essays “you’re not a country, Africa”. And in 2001, his first book “The way farer and other poems” won the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize.

For many years, Adesanmi was a regular columnist for Premium Times and Sahara Reporters. His writings were often satiric, focusing on the absurd in the Nigerian Social and Political System. His targets often included politicians, pastors and other relevant public figures.

Adesanmi died on 10 March 2019, when the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed shortly after he was on his way to an African Union Conference.

The entire social media was perplexed after his surprise exit. The media mourned his loss beyond comprehension.

  • Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo

Adeola Sowemimo has made history as the first Nigeria female pilot to be hired by Qatar Airways and the first Nigeria female pilot to fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

In recent times, African women leading and dominating the spaces they find themselves.

Even though it took a very long time for them to enjoy basic human rights, they have proven that they can achieve incredible feats across many industries.

  • Akinwumi Ayodeji Adesina

Adesina Akinwumi was former Nigeria Agriculture Minister from 2010 to 2015. After his tenure as the Minister of Agriculture, he has continued to work for food security. He is the 8th elected President of the African Development Bank Group, the first Nigeria elected to the position and he has folded his sleeves working for the development of Africa through many programs geared at advancing projects to achieve financial gains for Africa through its market.

One of such programs is the Africa investment forum in which he described as collective deal of the century for investment in and the development of Africa. The forum focuses on advancing projects to bankable stages, raising capital and speeding up the financial closure of deals.

Forbes Africa’s October 2018 issued described him as “Africa’s Mr. Development”.

He was recently awarded the Sunhak Peace Prize where he stated, “I am honoured to be awarded the Sunhak Peace Prize”. Whenever there are wars and conflict people go hungry. Wherever there is peace there is food and security.

  • Genevieve Nnaji

In her years in Nollywood, Genevieve has set the standard several times. She is the first Nigerian actor to open a website, the first actress to be awarded Best Actress by the Censors Board of Nigeria and first actress to win the African Movie Academy Award (AMAA) for Best Actress in Leading Role (2005). In 2009, she was featured in Oprah Winfrey’s special episode, Meet the Most Famous People in the world. She was referred to as the Julia Roberts of Africa by Oprah Winfrey.

On September 7, 2018 her directional debut Lion heart was acquired by online streaming Service Netflix marketing. It’s the first Netflix original film Nigeria. She set another milestone this year after signing a deal with the United Talent Agency (UTA), an agency which manages Johnny Depp, Angelina Jolie, Gwyne Paltrow among other A – list celebrities. The deal will see her collaborate with Hollywood film makers to produce films for an African perspective. 

  • Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli

Ndidi Okonkwo Nwuneli is a co-founder of Sahel Consulting and she served as its managing partner. She has 23 years of experience in international development, and through her work with Sahel has shaped agriculture strategy and policy in West Africa for a range of Clients in the public, private and non profit sectors.

She is also the co-founder of AACE foods a social enterprise which processes nutritious food made from the best of West Africa’s Cereals, herbs, pulses and spices. She is working with the LEAP Africa which works across Africa inspiring Empowering and Equipping the next generation of dynamic, principled and innovative young leaders.

  • Arunma Oteh

In July 2015, Jim Yong Kim, the president of the World Bank appointed Arunma Oteh, Vice President and Treasurer of the institution.[ In that capacity, she managed the organization’s US$200 billion debt portfolio, as well as an asset portfolio of almost US$200bn for the World Bank Group and 65 external clients, including central banks, pension funds and sovereign wealth funds.

Prior to joining the Bank, she served as Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Nigeria from 2010 to 2015.

During this period, she rebuilt the Nigeria Capital Markets after the global financial crises and served on Nigeria’s Economic Management Team.

In 2011, in recognition of her contribution to economic development and transforming the Nigeria Capital Markets, she was awarded the officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) National Honor. She was also named the Africa Investor Capital Market Personality of the year in 2014 and received the 2016 New Africa Woman Award in Finance and Banking. In 2018, she was named the Ai Global Institutional Investment Personality of the year.

Samson Itodo

Samson Itodo is the head of the Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth and Advancement (YIAGA), a youth based non-governmental organisation that promotes democratic governance, human rights and youth political participation. It focuses on in-depth research, capacity development and public policy advocacy. YIAGA has successfully pushed for the passage of the not too young to run bill which reduced the age limit for electoral officers. It is also pushing for presidential assent on the bill.

YIAGA AFRICA is educating and empowering the youth in order to promote participation in democratic and governance processes.

Samson was the pioneer National Coordinator of the first youth coalition on constitution and electoral reform in Nigeria – Youth Alliance on Constitution and Electoral Reform (YACORE).

We celebrate Samson for devoting his life to contributing to building Africa’s future by empowering the youth.

Segun Awosanya

One mention of the name, Segun Awosanyan (Popularly known as Segalinks) to corrupt police officials and law and order is restored. At the height of the SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) victimization and public harassment of the Nigerian citizenry. Awosanyan kicked off the #ENDSARS campaign with an aim to stop the “extortion from, disappearance and the deaths of countless… illegal arrest and detention of citizens”. During the struggle, he organized protest across different states and started an online petition, which attracted over 50,000 signatories.

Despite threats by the IG of police to stop any form of protest, the selfless leader who believes that “our children.. must not wear the chains of slavery and oppression” followed through until the Federal Government announced the reformation of SARS. It is of little wonder he is unofficially dubbed the man of the year on social media.

Mikel John Obi

The Super Eagles captain is recognized as a gift to the Nigerian sports industry. A man whose support and love for the country shows no bund, he came to the Nigerian Olympic team’s rescue in 2014 after he paid $4,000 (N800,000) when a hotel in Sao Paulo prevented the team from leaving due to unpaid bills.

In 2018, he once again showed his patriotism after he actively played for the team in the World Cup clash against Argentina hours after receiving inform on his father’s kidnap.

In a bid to salvage the Nigerian Amputee team which has resorted to crowdfunding, due to lack of finances, Obi pledged moral and physical support to the team.

Silas Adekunle

Adekunle made history when he was announced as the world’s highest paid in the field of robotics. He broke boundaries when he did the phenomenal in engineering by designing the first gaming robot.

He combined robotics, gaming and augmented reality to build a physical product. He didn’t stop at programming the software; he went further to manufacture the gaming robot.

Named as “someone to watch in 2018” by the Black Fund Hedge Group, Adekunle is the founder and CEO of Reach Robotics.

Not only has his works gained recognition, but they also listed him in the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe: Technology.

He signed a deal with the world’s reputable software manufacturers, Apple Inc. Apple priced his bots at $300 (N109,353) and put them in nearly all the stores in USA and Britain.

Anthony Joshua

The heavyweight champion has not slowed down his year in the boxing ring, with him holding down three of the four major championships in the sport: the IBF title since 2016, the WBA Super title since 2017, and the WBO title since March 2018. He also held the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles from 2014 to 2016.

Anthony Joshua secured a win by fighting Russian Alexander Povetkin for a seventh-round match at Wembly Stadium in September 2018. Joshua’s unbeaten professional record of 22 wins from 22 fights, with 21 knockouts makes him the man of the ring for 2018.

The Ring ranked Joshua as the world’s best active heavyweight in September 2018.

Kemi Adetiba

Until 2016, Kemi Adetiba was known as a budding producers, presenter. She is a producer whose works speak for her in Channel O, MTV Base and Soundcity TV. She cut her teeth in Nollywood after producing Nigeria’s 2016 highest grossing film the Wedding Party 1, a romantic comedy, which raked in N453 Million.

Through Adetiba, Nollywood showed that it was ready to take on the world with its quality production and belly-laugh storyline.

Two years later, the award-winning producer and director produced her own film, King of Boys, a non-comedy film which would last (over two hours) 169 minutes. This dream was, however, shut down by concerned friends who opined that creating a non-comedy film which will last over 2 hours will not work for Nigerians. How wrong they were!

With standing ovations from the audience at compelling scenes and powerful dialogue, the film has seen people return to the cinemas to watch it over three times.

In its fifth week, King of Boys broke three Nollywood records, generated over N200 million at the Box Office and is predicted to join the ranks of Black Panther and The Wedding Party 1 in no time.

Njideka Akunyili Crosby

The visual artist, Njideka Akunyili-Crosby, made major strides this year with her botanical painting, Bush Babies, which was sold for the whopping sum of N1,239,334,000 ($3.4 million) at the Christie’s in London, hence, making it the most expensive art piece sold at the auction. At the moment, over twenty art museums have been put on the waiting list for her works.

Njideka was also a recipient of the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s James Dickey Contemporary Art Prize (2014), Next Generation prize at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (2015), Foreign Policy’s Leading 100 Global Thinkers of (2015), Joyce Alexander Wein Artist Prize at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2015), Prix (2016), Canson 2016 Financial Times Women of the Year award (2016), Distinguished Alumni Award, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (2016) and McArthur ‘Genius’ great in 2017 from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The New Yorker describes her as “layered in her works by college and acetone-transfer prints, creating a fabric of images throughout her paintings,”. Also, Victoria Miro Gallery in London also said “… Her cultural identity combines strong attachments to the country of her birth and to her adopted home, a hybrid identity that is reflected in her work”.       

David Adedeji Adeleke (Davido)

Fresh off the success of his 2017 N30Billion Concert that ranked as the Highest Grossing Concert in Nigeria, Davido has had another remarkable year in 2018.

In February, Smade Entertainment kicked – off Davido’s 30 Billion UK Tour at the Athena in Leicester, England. With Six nights of amazing performances, he made history by selling out one of UK’s most prestigious music venues; London’s 5000 capacity 02 Academy.

In mid-2018, Davido made another great milestone achievement when Tidal announced that the Nigerian music act would joint American superstars such as Nicki Minaj and Post Malone to perform ahead of Jay-Z’s Made in America Festival.

Let’s not forget that Davido has been in the news for all the right reasons this year as his Assurance single is a nationwide anthem, while his love story with his girlfriend, Chioma is relationship goals for many. His drumming up support for his uncle, Ademola Adeleke in the 2018 Osun Gubernatorial election, has also encouraged more young people to take an active part in politics.

Damini Ogulu (Burna Boy)

Burna Boy is in a world of his own for being a musical genius and his reggae dance-hall artiste has been pulling out commendable tricks from his bag of talents in the year 2018.

In February 2018, Burna Boy’s Outside album debuted on Billboard’s Raggae Albums Chart at the Number 3 spot.

The Afro-fusion singer also signed a publishing deal with Universal Music USA in 2018 and this deal came when outside was getting great reviews.

He also released Burna Boy Space Puffs Cereal and held a Pop Up sales of his new venture in London.

Spotify’s Global Cultures editorial team launched a new Afro Hub to create a global brand representative of hits from all countries around the world and it was announced that it will allow Burna Boy to create a playlist of his favourite songs under the Afro Hub, which will then be featured as a Spotify highlight. The announcement coincided with a three month YouTube campaign that focused on Burna Boy as a global artiste on the rise.

2018 also saw Burna Boy make history as the first African artiste to sell out and shut down a show at the O2 Academy, Brixton. Still, on the heels of this, his Ye music video was played on the big screens at Times Square, New York. YouTube Music sponsored the sport.

Olubukola Abubakar Saraki

Abubakar Olubukola Saraki is a Nigerian politician who has been the President of Nigeria’s Senate since 2015. Previously he was the Governor of Kwara Statee under the platform of the PDP (People’s Democratic Party) from 2003 to 2011. He was first elected to the Senate in April 2011, also under the platform of the PDP, representing the Kwara Central Senatorial district, and then re-elected in the March 2015 election, under the platform of the APC (All Progressive Congress). He decamped back to his former party, the People’s Democratic Party, on 31 July 2018. Saraki declared his intention to vie for the Office of President of Nigeria, under the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). but lost to Atiku Abubakar, he was subsequently announced as the DG of Atiku’s Presidential Campaign Council.

He was one of the biggest lost to the ruling APC party when he decamped to PDP in the run to the last general election in Nigeria.

He was much talked about politician in the Nigerian political landscape until he lost at the polls in 2019 national assembly general elections.

His feat in the following areas stand him out among his peers

Under Saraki, Kwara became the first state to complete the Nigeria Independent Power Project. In collaboration with the Power Holding Company of Nigeria, Saraki re-energised the Ganmo Power Station at Ilorin, and connected over 3750 rural communities to the national grid through the development and installation of 725 transformers and 7 substations.

While in office, Saraki introduced new health programmes, including a statewide campaign in 2008 to reduce maternal and child mortality from malaria. This included distribution of insecticide-treated nets and free malaria drugs to pregnant mothers and to children under the age of five. A statewide programme of hospital development was also implemented, leading to the redevelopment of hospitals in Afon, Patigi and Lafiagi. Other measures included improved training and re-training for medical staff; refurbishment of hospitals and staff living quarters; and employment of qualified medical doctors and other health workers. Many of the primary care programmes were sponsored by international agencies such as WHO and UNICEFF.

Saraki introduced agricultural policy reforms to increase the commercial viability of farming, and also the volume of exports to international markets. The New Nigerian Farmers Initiative was designed to improve the technical capability of farmers and to ensure farmers had a significant financial stake in new investment in agriculture. The scheme utilised the under-used agricultural expertise in the Zimbabwean farming industry, and worked with Zimbabwe’s Commercial Farmers Unionn to identify highly skilled farmers able to support Nigeria’s farming industry and to move to Kwara and develop the farming industry A commercial hub was also developed[ to build capacity support training for the indigenous farming community.

Saraki led significant and statewide infrastructure development, including improvements at the Ilorin International Airport Cargo Terminal, extensive road construction, and development of new sporting facilities such as Kwara Football Academy.

Saraki became chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum in 2007. Under Saraki’s Chairmanship, a reformed Forum was established, with a fully resourced secretariat, with a technical and administrative division that was entirely focused on deliver

Under Saraki’s chairmanship, new processes such as the State Peer Review Mechanism were developed to ensure closer working and collaboration, and that best practices could be shared between states. The mechanism allowed case studies to be shared between states in a number of policy fields. including power projects, primary healthcare centres for villages and other rural locations, roadworks, water, solar schemes and the construction of specialist hospitals and state universities. Projects such as these had previously remained undisclosed.

The Forum developed better and more extensive polio immunisation in Nigeria. A key part of this was the introduction in 2011 of the Immunisation Leadership Challenge. The Challenge was designed to reward states in Nigeria that made significant improvements in polio and routine immunisation coverage by the end of 2012.  

Observing the effects of the election cycle, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation drove the challenge – launched in partnership with the NGF – which pledged to award US $500,000 to states that met a pre-defined threshold of improvement.

The NGF and Global Development Partners: Under Dr Saraki’s chairmanship a number of Memorandum of Understandingg (MOUs) have been signed, including but not limited to the World Bank, DFID, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, GAVI, UNICEFF, UNDP.

The Nigerian Senate under his leadership has surpassed all Senates in Nigeria’s history, passing over 201 bills and clearing 138 public petitions.

He courted many controversies towards the general election Bukola Saraki was the first Senate President in Nigeria to be issued arrest warrants in September 18, 2015; His name was in the list of politicians named in “Paradise Papers” allegations in November 2017; Bukola Saraki and some of his aides were allegedly indicted by EFCC for laundering up to N3.5 billion from the Paris Club Loan Refund.

The Nigeria Bobsled Team

The first national team was established in 2016 by Seun Adigun, in 2-Woman Bobsleigh. The team was entirely self-funding, without financial support from Nigerian authorities. Raising the money to run the team showed the Nigerian government that they needed to establish a governing federation for bobsled, which they did, the Bobsled & Skeleton Federation of Nigeria (BSFN).

The team’s first attempt to qualify for the Winter Olympics, was in 2017, for the 2018 Winter Olympics in bobsledding, the two-women event. The 2018 Olympic team consisted of driver Seun Adigun, and brakemen Ngozi Onwumere and Akuoma Omeoga. In November 2017, the team met the basic standard to participate in the qualifications. If the team qualifies, this would represent the first appearance of Nigeria at the Winter Olympics; and the first African team in bobsled.

The team qualified for the Olympics, being its representatives at the Winter Games. Nigeria became one of eight African countries to be represented at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Onwumere carried the Nigerian flag at the 2018 Winter Olympics opening ceremony Parade of Nations, and marched with her two teammates, along with fellow Nigerian Simidele Adeagbo, who qualified for women’s skeleton. The team finished last among the 20 teams who competed. After the Games, the 3 on the team retired from bobsled, but pledged to develop the sport in Nigeria, grow the Nigerian sporting federation, and grow winter sports and the Winter Olympics in Africa.

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Chiamanda is a Nigerian Novelist, Writer of short stories, Feminist Campaigner and nonfiction. She has written several novels and has received numerous awards and distinctions. As a seasoned Nigerian writer, she has been called the most prominent of a procession of critically acclaimed young Anglophone authors that is succeeding in attracting a new generation of readers to African literature.

Her work has been translated into thirty languages and has appeared in various publications including the new Yorker, Granta, the O. Henry Prize stories, the financial times and zoetrope.

Chiamanda has received numerous awards and distinctions.

In April 2017, she was elected into the 237th class of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, one of the highest honors for intellectuals in the United States.

Chiamanda published her most recent book, Dear Ijeawele, or A Feminist Manifesto in fifteen suggestions in March 2017, had its origins in a letter Adichie wrote to a friend who had asked for advice about how to raise her daughter as a feminist.

She has been making Nigeria proud in the global scene with her various achievements of rare quality

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Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo – THE FIRST NIGERIA FEMALE PILOT WITH QATAR AIRWAYS

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In Doha, Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo, a Nigerian female pilot etched a record of her own working for a world-class Air-Line. She is the first Nigeria female pilot to be hired by Qatar Airways and she will be flying the big bird, the Dreamliner Boeing 787.

Over the years, Nigerian women have proven that they are capable of achieving incredible feats across all industries and this is the case of Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo, who becomes the First Nigerian Female Pilot at Qatar Airways likewise the First Nigerian Female Pilot on the Gigantic Boeing 787 Dreamliner Aircraft.

Sowemimo, an indigene of Ogbomosho, an ancient town in Oyo State. Married to Seun Funmi Olamilekan Sowemimo on the 22 day of April, 2017. A marriage that is blessed with kids, a true inspiration for Nigerian women to pursue their dreams despite having a family. The graduate of  Ladoke Akintola University, which is also based in the old city.

In 1978, Chinyere Kalu was recorded the first Nigerian female commercial pilot in 1978, thereby making her part of the first wave of African female pilots but not the first female pilot in Africa. The place of the female pilot in African social-political context is subjective. One account has it that Ghanaian Millicent Melody Danquah was the first female pilot after she flew solo for the first time in a de Havilland Canada DHC -1 Chipmunk Aircraft in 1964. Making her prominent as the first female African aviator.

For African women, History shows that it took a very long time for them to enjoy basic human rights. Through the fight of equality and provision of human rights and privileges to women in society, they have proven that they are a force to reckon with and a set back is no reason not to rise as fast as they can. They have also proven that they are capable of achieving incredible feats across many industries.

In recent times, African women are leading and dominating the spaces they find themselves but only a few are waves in male-dominated industries. Many trailblazers have accomplished in the field of sports, business, medicine and so on. Now, a Nigerian trailblazer Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo has emerged in the aviation industry just like our own Ngozi Okonjo Iweala in the global financial sector.

Like Danquah and Kalu, cited earlier, a wave of positive acknowledgment, praise and congratulatory messages have continued to trail the announcement of Sowemimo. She had taken to her Facebook page to thank God for His mercy. She wrote: “It is the Lord’s doing and its marvelous in my sight” caught in the euphoria of her moment, the Orlando, Florida based pilot further posted a picture of herself as a student of Sunrise Aviation Academy U.S on Facebook with the caption “Days of little beginning … God be praised #Ihavedominion”.

On seeing her post, friends and family members on the platform also celebrated her for the great achievement, thanking God for granting her the abilities to achieve it. Other well-meaning Nigerians also followed suit on social media to heap praises on her for the stunning milestone. One of such is Arunma Oteh, a former World Bank Vice-President, who gave Sowemimo the applause with the tweet: Congratulations Captain Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo, making Nigeria proud. President Okonkwo @IkechukwuQwu wrote first Nigeria female pilot will Qatar Airways, Mrs. Adeola Ogunmola Sowemimo flying the Dreamliner Boeing 787. Congrats Captain!

Headquartered in the Qatar Airways Tower in Doha, Qatar Airline Operates a hub -and-spoke network, linking over 150 international destinations across African, central Asia, Europe, far East, South Asia, America and Oceania, using a fleet of more than 200 aircraft.

Even though the Middle East is home to some of the world’s biggest and most recognizable airlines like emirates and Etihad, it’s reputed as an extremely challenging region for women hoping to set into the cockpit. The state-owned national carrier of Qatar is one of the first in the region to introduce female pilots with women accounting for 44 percent of the airline’s workforce as at 2018, according to its Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker.   

Piece contributed by Kine Ivere    

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2019 International Women’s Day: Six Women who shaped the World Order

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – Nigeria makes the list

Today is International Women’s Day. This day of recognition shines a spotlight on the achievements of women past and present. It was formally established in 1975, when the United Nations celebrated International Women’s Year and held the first World Conference on Women in Mexico City. However, the day’s origins can be traced back to the first decade of the twentieth century and the women’s labor and suffrage movements.

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World Order Women’s Political Leadership History and Theory of International Relations Diplomacy and International Institutions Human Rights

All too often women and their stories are edited out of history. However, women have played critical roles in forging the contemporary world and the international institutions that help govern it. Thanks to women, we gained—among other fixtures—the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the first treaty to articulate the fundamental human rights that should be universally protected. Eleanor Roosevelt steered the treaty through a tumultuous drafting and adoption process; Hansa Mehta, Minerva Bernardino, and Bodil Begtrup insisted upon inclusive language that referred to “humans” instead of “men”; and women such as Begum Shaista Ikramullah, Evdokia Uralova, and Marie-Helene Lefaucheux pushed for it to address women’s issues such as marriage and equal pay. Furthermore, women such as Hannah Arendt, Marie Colvin, and Elena Poniatowska have challenged us to understand the world in new ways. And in recent years Margaret Chan, Christine Lagarde, Angela Merkel, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka have changed the face of leadership.

Today, in honor of International Women’s Day, we highlight just a few of the women whose contributions have helped to shape world order into its present form.

Mabel Newcomer. Dr. Mabel Newcomer was a respected economist, passionate educator, and prolific writer. From 1917 to 1957, she taught economics at Vassar College, where she was known as the best “tax man” of those years. In addition to teaching, Newcomer served as the first female vice president of the American Economic Association and as a consultant to the U.S. Treasury. In 1944, she represented the United States at the UN Monetary and Financial Conference at Bretton Woods. She was the only American woman at the conference that would establish the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, later to grow into the World Bank. At the meetings on the IMF, Newcomer was the only woman at the table, though not the only woman in the room. The other women present sat behind male delegates as expert consultants. After the conference, Newcomer helped sell the program to American women, and traveled throughout the country speaking to many groups, contributing to the success of the institutions that have been essential in managing the world economy.

Doris Stevens. Doris Stevens was a champion for women’s rights both at home and abroad. Stevens was a prominent organizer and leader within the American suffrage movement. Though she was arrested multiple times, she remained committed to her cause. In 1922, the suffragists secured the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Stevens turned her attention to international women’s rights and legal status. She was appointed as the inaugural chair of the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW), the first intergovernmental agency established to ensure recognition of women’s human rights. During her tenure, the IACW meticulously documented how laws around the world codified gender inequality. In 1933, this work yielded the Convention on the Nationality of Women, which was the first international instrument adopted concerning the rights of women. The treaty ensured a woman’s right to retain her own nationality in the event of marriage to a man of another nationality. Decades later, women around the world continue her fight for legal equality.

Gro Harlem Brundtland. Beyond becoming the first woman and youngest individual to hold the office of Norwegian prime minister, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland played an essential role in popularizing the idea of sustainable development. In 1983, the UN General Assembly established the World Commission on Environment and Development and mandated it, among other items, “to propose long-term environmental strategies for achieving sustainable development to the year 2000 and beyond.” Brundtland chaired this commission and oversaw the three years of deliberations that produced its seminal report, Our Common Future [PDF]. The findings of the Brundtland Report, as it came to be known, have served as a foundation for much of the United Nations’ subsequent work on environment and development, including the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and, more recently, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The concept of sustainable development articulated in its pages has gained currency well beyond the halls of multilateral institutions, becoming a twenty-first century global social, cultural, economic, and political touchstone.

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. While some international institutions, like the Brundtland Commission, have had women at their helm, others have proved more recalcitrant to female leaders. One such institution, the World Bank, saw cracks in its glass ceiling in 2012, when Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ran to become its president. After serving terms as Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister and finance minister, and then as a managing director at the bank, she (and Colombia’s Jose Antonio Ocampo) squared off against American physician Jim Yong Kim in the bank’s first-ever contested presidential selection. Historically, a longstanding transatlantic gentlemen’s agreement has put an American in charge of the bank and a European in charge of the IMF as a fait accompli. Okonjo-Iweala helped to challenge that non-meritocratic status quo with her candidacy. Although unsuccessful, she put up fierce opposition and laid the groundwork for future challenges from non-Americans, especially from developing countries. With the World Bank presidency now up for grabs once again and the controversial David Malpass as the U.S. nominee, Okonjo-Iweala has garnered attention as a potential alternative. As the current chair of the board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and an influential figure on the world stage, she will remain an inspiration for women across the globe regardless of whether she assumes the mantle of World Bank president.

Jody Williams. For decades, Jody Williams has been one of the world’s most effective peace advocates. In 1997, Williams and the International Coalition to Ban Landmines (ICBL) jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to ban landmines. Williams was first exposed to landmines’ devastation during her work in El Salvador in the 1980s. As an aid worker, she was responsible for providing prosthetic arms and legs to children who had lost limbs to mines. She returned to the United States, and in 1991 began working with ICBL as its chief strategist and spokesperson. Williams was a triple threat: she had a flair for activsim, was an effective organizer, and did not mind if people found her difficult. Within six years, she had grown the coalition to some 1,300 organizations across ninety-five countries. In December 1997, ICBL achieved a major victory when world leaders gathered in Ottawa, Canada, to sign the Mine Ban Treaty, which bans the production, use, stockpiling or transport of antipersonnel mines. Although these weapons still exist, the treaty contributed to a strong norm against their use. Ever the activist, Williams continues to work toward peace. In addition to her work with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, she co-chairs the Nobel Women’s Initiative, and has joined with fellow survivors of sexual assault in lobbying world leaders to end sexual violence in conflict.

Lise Meitner. Science, alongside politics, is one of the most powerful forces shaping the modern world. Dr. Lise Meitner, a prolific and pathbreaking Austrian physicist, had a profound influence on both. She was a critical member of the team that first unlocked the potential of the atom, a structure central to international politics since World War II. After her colleague Otto Hahn’s bombardment of uranium with neutrons in 1938 yielded barium isotopes, Meitner correctly inferred that the splitting of the atomic nucleus—nuclear fission—was responsible. She and her nephew Otto Frisch articulated the process through which this occurred, leading scientists to surmise that a fissile chain reaction would release enormous amounts of energy, generating an explosion of immense power. Although Meitner, who had fled to Sweden due to her Jewish lineage, had made a contribution integral to the development of the atomic bomb, she refused to participate in the subsequent Manhattan Project. The Nobel Committee overlooked her several years later, when it awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Otto Hahn “for his discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei.” Meitner’s personal legacy, then, is one of profound humanity, having escaped the atrocities of Nazi Europe and abstained from the making of the bomb only to see her genius employed toward the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and bring the world to the knife’s edge during the Cold War.
The Way Forward
The women highlighted here represent only a small proportion of the women who have worked across borders to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and equal world. Their already challenging work was made even more daunting by the barriers—legal, economic, and social—that they had to overcome in order to do their work. Today, in addition to honoring these women and their achievements, we should take a clear-eyed look at the barriers that remain intact and double-down on efforts to dismantle them. A generation of young women waits to engage in the hard work of changing the world, and it is our responsibility to make it easier for them to do so.
Piece by Rebecca Hughes, research associate for Women and Foreign Policy, and Kyle L. Evanoff, research associate for International Institutions and Global Governance, at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Doris Stevens. Doris Stevens was a champion for women’s rights both at home and abroad. Stevens was a prominent organizer and leader within the American suffrage movement. Though she was arrested multiple times, she remained committed to her cause. In 1922, the suffragists secured the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and Stevens turned her attention to international women’s rights and legal status. She was appointed as the inaugural chair of the Inter-American Commission of Women (IACW), the first intergovernmental agency established to ensure recognition of women’s human rights. During her tenure, the IACW meticulously documented how laws around the world codified gender inequality. In 1933, this work yielded the Convention on the Nationality of Women, which was the first international instrument adopted concerning the rights of women. The treaty ensured a woman’s right to retain her own nationality in the event of marriage to a man of another nationality. Decades later, women around the world continue her fight for legal equality.
Gro Harlem Brundtland. Beyond becoming the first woman and youngest individual to hold the office of Norwegian prime minister, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland played an essential role in popularizing the idea of sustainable development. In 1983, the UN General Assembly established the World Commission on Environment and Development and mandated it, among other items, “to propose long-term environmental strategies for achieving sustainable development to the year 2000 and beyond.” Brundtland chaired this commission and oversaw the three years of deliberations that produced its seminal report, Our Common Future [PDF]. The findings of the Brundtland Report, as it came to be known, have served as a foundation for much of the United Nations’ subsequent work on environment and development, including the 1992 Rio Earth Summit and, more recently, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The concept of sustainable development articulated in its pages has gained currency well beyond the halls of multilateral institutions, becoming a twenty-first century global social, cultural, economic, and political touchstone.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. While some international institutions, like the Brundtland Commission, have had women at their helm, others have proved more recalcitrant to female leaders. One such institution, the World Bank, saw cracks in its glass ceiling in 2012, when Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala ran to become its president. After serving terms as Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister and finance minister, and then as a managing director at the bank, she (and Colombia’s Jose Antonio Ocampo) squared off against American physician Jim Yong Kim in the bank’s first-ever contested presidential selection. Historically, a longstanding transatlantic gentlemen’s agreement has put an American in charge of the bank and a European in charge of the IMF as a fait accompli. Okonjo-Iweala helped to challenge that non-meritocratic status quo with her candidacy. Although unsuccessful, she put up fierce opposition and laid the groundwork for future challenges from non-Americans, especially from developing countries. With the World Bank presidency now up for grabs once again and the controversial David Malpass as the U.S. nominee, Okonjo-Iweala has garnered attention as a potential alternative. As the current chair of the board of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, and an influential figure on the world stage, she will remain an inspiration for women across the globe regardless of whether she assumes the mantle of World Bank president.
Jody Williams. For decades, Jody Williams has been one of the world’s most effective peace advocates. In 1997, Williams and the International Coalition to Ban Landmines (ICBL) jointly received the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to ban landmines. Williams was first exposed to landmines’ devastation during her work in El Salvador in the 1980s. As an aid worker, she was responsible for providing prosthetic arms and legs to children who had lost limbs to mines. She returned to the United States, and in 1991 began working with ICBL as its chief strategist and spokesperson. Williams was a triple threat: she had a flair for activsim, was an effective organizer, and did not mind if people found her difficult. Within six years, she had grown the coalition to some 1,300 organizations across ninety-five countries. In December 1997, ICBL achieved a major victory when world leaders gathered in Ottawa, Canada, to sign the Mine Ban Treaty, which bans the production, use, stockpiling or transport of antipersonnel mines. Although these weapons still exist, the treaty contributed to a strong norm against their use. Ever the activist, Williams continues to work toward peace. In addition to her work with the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, she co-chairs the Nobel Women’s Initiative, and has joined with fellow survivors of sexual assault in lobbying world leaders to end sexual violence in conflict.
Lise Meitner. Science, alongside politics, is one of the most powerful forces shaping the modern world. Dr. Lise Meitner, a prolific and pathbreaking Austrian physicist, had a profound influence on both. She was a critical member of the team that first unlocked the potential of the atom, a structure central to international politics since World War II. After her colleague Otto Hahn’s bombardment of uranium with neutrons in 1938 yielded barium isotopes, Meitner correctly inferred that the splitting of the atomic nucleus—nuclear fission—was responsible. She and her nephew Otto Frisch articulated the process through which this occurred, leading scientists to surmise that a fissile chain reaction would release enormous amounts of energy, generating an explosion of immense power. Although Meitner, who had fled to Sweden due to her Jewish lineage, had made a contribution integral to the development of the atomic bomb, she refused to participate in the subsequent Manhattan Project. The Nobel Committee overlooked her several years later, when it awarded the 1944 Nobel Prize in Chemistry to Otto Hahn “for his discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei.” Meitner’s personal legacy, then, is one of profound humanity, having escaped the atrocities of Nazi Europe and abstained from the making of the bomb only to see her genius employed toward the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and bring the world to the knife’s edge during the Cold War.
The Way Forward
The women highlighted here represent only a small proportion of the women who have worked across borders to build a more peaceful, prosperous, and equal world. Their already challenging work was made even more daunting by the barriers—legal, economic, and social—that they had to overcome in order to do their work. Today, in addition to honoring these women and their achievements, we should take a clear-eyed look at the barriers that remain intact and double-down on efforts to dismantle them. A generation of young women waits to engage in the hard work of changing the world, and it is our responsibility to make it easier for them to do so.
Piece by Rebecca Hughes, research associate for Women and Foreign Policy, and Kyle L. Evanoff, research associate for International Institutions and Global Governance, at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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