Iyabo Ojo, Rema, Funke Akindele, Ebuka, others make list of the Most Interesting People In the Culture 2023

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Chude Jideonwo, host of the viral talk show #WithChude has announced his annual list of ‘The Most Interesting People in the Culture’ for 2023. The list – shortened as #TheJoy150 – has 150 names of Nigerians who defined and shaped the culture in the past year.

“Culture is the work that I do,” Jideonwo said. “Whether it’s The Future Awards Africa, Rubbin’ Minds, Ynaija.com, The RED Summit, or any of the brands I have created or co-created, it’s always been about how do you observe, document, understand culture – what drives people, what moves them, why do we like what we like and who makes us like what we like. And most importantly, what does that say about us as a people? Curating this list is one of the most interesting things I do each year.”

The list will be shared officially on the last episode of #WithChude for the year. To watch the episode, subscribe on watch.withchude.com or listen.withchude.com.

The full list is below. This is the 4th edition since the list started in 2019.

#TheJoy150, 2023

READ ALSO: Chude Jideonwo to speak alongside His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, at Joy Summit 2022

  1. Abdalla Uba Adamu: A Professor of Media and Cultural Studies, he is perhaps the most exciting public-engaging academic working on contemporary pop culture. This includes his own personal artistic expressions, which make him an incredibly cool professor.
  2. Adaobi Nwaubani: Adaobi is one of the nation’s most respected international journalists and essayists. But you would not know that because she doesn’t know how to toot her horn. She also wrote one of the best books to come out of our clime in a decade – I do not come to you by chance. But you also may not know because she does her work and keeps it moving. Thank God we live in a universe that pays attention, and because of that and Genevieve, the world finally got to encounter the brilliance of her voice and her storytelling.
  3. Adesegun ‘Smade’ Adeosun Jnr: If you see Nigerian music taken over the biggest stages in the United Kingdom and Europe, know that people built that infrastructure, and know that no one person has been more instrumental to the current infrastructure than this man.
  4. Adetokunbo Mumuni: The Executive Director of SERAP which has become the country’s loudest voice holding governments accountable almost on a daily basis. We owe him and them thanks.
  5. Ahmad Salkida: HumAngle humanizes voices and faces and lives from the North of Nigeria in the face of terrorism, insurgency and government indifference. The work Salkida does with his platform – including the video podcast ‘Humanitarian Voices’ is indispensable.
  6. Ahmed ‘Asake’ Ololade: No words necessary.
  7. Aisha Yesufu: Show me a person who refuses to back down as much as Aisha Yesufu, who will stand tall behind whatever or whoever she believes, and who is not perturbed no matter the heat that opponents direct her way. It is impossible not to respect such a spine, and not to respect the way that she has continued to fight on the side of justice and fairness, even outside of politics.
  8. Akah Nnani: Nnani has done many important things this year, as a creative who never backs down but for his textured, layered, bombastic character in She Must Be Obeyed? He easily makes this list.
  9. Alex Otti: Nigeria’s politics has principalities, and most outcomes are predictable. So, after this man left Corporate Nigeria and continued to run unsuccessfully for governor for years, people thought he was wasting his time. He inspires for grit, because this year he was powered by an undisputed people’s revolt that overcame all the structures everyone feared and delivered him to the government house. He is proof of why democracy and free, fair elections are very sweet.
  10. Ali Nuhu: From The Trade to The Plan to She Must Be Obeyed, Nuhu again reminded us of his status as the preeminent actor from the  North. But in addition to all of this, he launched his excellent Hausa-language YouTube series Alaqa, already racking millions of views and ensuring that Nuhu’s influence is supercharged.
  11. All the hosts of The Honest Bunch Podcast (Nedu, Husband Material, DeityCole and Ezinne): The only other show apart from #WithChude that went consistently viral was The Honest Bunch. They certainly made their present felt in 2023, and hate them or love them, they made sure you couldn’t ignore them.
  12. All the writers and directors and producers of Diiche: I consider this one of the top 5 series from Nigeria this year and it is a shame that it didn’t get more buzz than it did. Sublimely written and executed with brilliance, this industry certainly needs more from the minds that gave us this.
  13. Allen Ifechukwu Onyema: With Air Peace opening new routes, Allen Onyema has always been a bold one, going where others dread to tread. His success will be our gain.
  14. Asisat Oshoala: Nominated for 2023 Ballon d’Or Award and listed amongst the final 10 nominees for the 2023 CAF women’s player of the year, Oshoala just continues to win.
  15. Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani): One of the nation’s most important election monitors, with his team and collaborators he helped ensure that state elections especially didn’t happen under the of darkness this year.
  16. Ayo ‘AY’ Makun: The Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) also debuted his comedy special this year and continues to sell out comedy shows. AY was easily the year’s most prominent comedian, starting from how he owned the conversation at the start of the year with his mega-viral #WithChude interview where he finally spoke up on his fight with Basketmouth. He never stops and he doesn’t give in.
  17. Ayodeji Razaq: In a country where succession planning is exceedingly rare, this young man who already co-built a successful communication business took over the reins of some of the industry’s biggest brands from the RED | For Africa Group including The Future Awards Africa and held steady.
  18. Best Amakhian: He is responsible for several of the year’s viral moments being the mind behind Glitch Africa, owners of The Honest Bunch Podcast, Rants Bants and Confessions, and Bahd and Boujee. The studio also curates the sounds of the industry’s next best things, making this a visionary part of co-creating the culture.
  19. Biodun Stephen: The queen of the small, sweet films that become blockbuster, Stephen owned the year with Sista, Big Love, and then Small Talk. She wins on Netflix, Amazon and Rok. That’s in addition to winning on YouTube.
  20. Bishop Matthew KUKAH: There are very few voices as respected, as listened to and as influential in Nigeria’s political spaces as Bishop Kukah. In a nation where very few people are truly respected for their integrity, it is a blessing that we have the bishop to always speak the truth. And always about what truly matters.
  21. Bolaji Idowu: Is he the coolest Nigerian pastor or what? All the celebrities go to his church, all the pastors want him on their pulpits, but it’s the lives he changes through the Next Level Prayers and his events across the world that make him stand out. He is a pastor for the age.
  22. Bolanle Austen-Peters: This woman has to be superhuman. How is she able to manage Nigeria’s premier cultural center Terra Kulture, anchor its biggest musicals and yet be the director of BOTH critical and commercial movie hits? How is she able to do it? There are very few like her.
  23. Busola Tejumola: As the head of content at Multichoice, Busola has consistently delivered the audience’s choice in terms of content, proving that telling stories that connect with people never gets old.
  24. Charles ‘D’Prince’ Enebeli: D’Prince easily wins respect for the quiet, determined way he has built one of the most powerful labels in the country (Jonzing World) with Rema, Ruger and now the recently unveiled Gdzilla. You have to respect people who know what they are doing and who know how to keep it down and get it done.
  25. Charles Odii: This is a story of consistency. For years, Odii has focused on SMEs, rewarding them, enabling them, recognizing them, championing them, even when the path wasn’t clear to others. His appointment this year as DG of SMEDAN is one of those very rare Nigerian cares therefore of a square peg in a square hole.
  26. Chidi Mokeme: The last time the country saw a comeback so fierce was Sola Sobowale, many moons ago.  Then the former Gulder Ultimate Search host returned with a bang with Shanty Town after leaving the industry due to Bell’s Palsy. Since then he has not stopped – from Merry Men 3 to Kemi Adetiba’s To Kill A Monkey, Mokeme returned like he never left.
  27. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: She continues to be one of Nigeria’s most important literary voices, its biggest speaking circuit draw and one of its most beloved public figures. Even when she put it all on the line to make her stand clear in the 2023 elections. The world pays attention to everything she says. If there is a definition for iconic, it doesn’t get clearer than Chimamanda.
  28. Chinneylove Eze: While everyone focused on chasing streamers, Chinneylove focused on building a monster community on YouTube with her movies. She possibly showed many how deep the Nollywood-loving community on YouTube is, and then after building that powerful community, Amazon came calling.
  29. Chinyere Udoma: One of the pioneers of Igbo gospel hitting the mainstream, her viral song ‘Eze Mmuo’ pushed her back to the consciousness of the audience and one hopes that she stays there.
  30. CJ and Oge Obasi: This couple produced Nigeria’s most critically acclaimed film of the past few decades. The festivals are raving, the critics are besotted and thankfully, the industry respected that achievement not only with multiple awards but also by selecting it with no controversy as our 2023 Oscar offering.
  31. Comfort Booth: The Real Housewives of Abuja didn’t match the virality of its Lagos elder sister, but even in that, Booth stood out with a strong personality and an ability to connect deeply with audiences.
  32. Crown ‘Shallipopi’ Uzama: Shallipopi first rose to fame in 2023 with the release of “Obapluto” – and he gripped fame by the neck and refused to let go.
  33. Damini Ebunoluwa ’Burna Boy’ Ogulu: Do we really need to explain? Let the sold out venues and the Grammy laurels tell the story.
  34. Damola Ademola: Inkblot is Nollywood’s most dedicated creator standing today and the enabler of an endless slate of stars, despite struggling with critical acclaim. Colour everyone surprised when what appeared to be the more understated member of the crew directed one of the best 5 films to come out of Nollywood this year. If you missed A Weekend to Forget in the cinemas, find it when it comes to its streaming partner and pray to God that Damola continues to direct.
  35. Daniel Regha: Like him or hate him, we need Daniel Regha’s voice. We need people in society and culture willing to say what many people think but are afraid to say. We need people willing to buck the trend. We need people who speak out on what they think matters, no matter whose ox is gored. And we need people like Daniel who cannot be silenced.
  36. David ‘Davido’ Adeleke: He rose from one of the most crippling crises an adult can face, to resume his chair as one of the prime movers of culture, one of the prime supporters of creatives, and a triple Grammy-nominee. All hail.
  37. David Hundeyin: Winner of Special Investigative Reporting Category Winner, Special Investigative Reporting Category Issued by PwC Media Excellence Awards 2023, Hundeyin is easily Nigeria’s most feared journalists. It’s been a long time since a lone journalist made the powers that be quake at his investigations, interviews and statements. This year, he showed he can make two governments quake when Ghana’s came out to promise him he would not be extradited. Say what you will about his methods, but his voice and impact matter.
  38. David Oyedepo: In 2023, he did not flinch from making his voice heard in the most important elections in recent history, ensuring that he clarified the issues that mattered for many and gave others out of politics the courage to speak and be heard.
  39. Desmond Majekodunmi: Lufasi Park is a miracle. In Lagos, where every space is snapped up for real estate or for glam and modernity, the fact that its founder and its board have managed to retain this space of nature is a blessing. Nigeria needs more spaces like this. May it remain a beacon.
  40. Divine ‘Rema’ Ikubor: Is there any need to explain why Rema, – with his 1 billion streams, his global acclaim, his quiet pioneer and his constant Billboard chart bursting – belongs on this list?
  41. Reuben Abati: Think of how many of Abati’s peers continue to be mainstream forces as he has become. Think of how he has become the intellectual anchor of the viral Arise morning talk show. To continue to reinvest and stand tall in a country that quickly eats its media icons is no small feat. It’s a feat he has accomplished.
  42. Ebuka Obi-Uchendu: The most booked and busy TV host currently on the scene in Nigeria, Ebuka deserves praise. There is Big Brother Africa, there is Rubbin’ Minds, there is Judging Matters and then there is his new travel show. The man works hard and always delivers.
  43. Ebuka Songs, King Flo, Anderson Qozan and the worship team at The Logic Church: We encountered the brilliant worship team of The Logic Church on YouTube, and we were hooked. The energy, the joy, and the community display the best of worship and gospel culture. More, more!
  44. Editi Effiong: “The Black Book” was the global hit from Nigeria this year claiming multiple #1 spots on Netflix and catapulting its producer and director Effiong to the A list of Nigeria’s creative class. That $1 million risk he took certainly paid off.
  45. Emeka  Nwagbaraocha: Nominated by The Future Awards this year, the same year he was in everything from I do not come to you by chance to The Trade to House of Secrets, he could rest on those laurels. But no, Emeka also became one of his generation’s most listened to voices on social media, making it clear where he stood in the 2023 elections and teaching people how to go viral almost every day.
  46. Emmanuel Iren: Gen Z’s favourite pastor got a Honorary Doctorate Degree from Myles Leadership University this year, proving that giving ‘spirit-filled’ clapbacks on social media, speaking to the hearts and minds of a generation, and knowing what the moment calls for never gets old.
  47. Eniola ‘Korty EO’ Olanrewaju: She was featured in the YouTube 2023 Black Voices Class and collaborated with Victoria’s Secret. She is the most important storyteller of her generation at the moment through her YouTube short films, and her voice rings loud, sharp and firm. It will be interesting to see where her journey takes her.
  48. Enioluwa Adeoluwa: The undisputed Gen Z icon, Eni fully came into his own this year, nominated for The Future Awards Africa, hosting Davido’s concert amongst several others, and enabling an entire cast of Gen Z celebs using his high-wattage star power and eye for what’s hot. He’s a genius.
  49. Femi ‘Yemi Kings’ Oke Opeyemi: It is a compliment to call him the TY Bello of his generation, because he has done that rarest of things, being able to build a clear recognizable signature as a photographer. The Future Awards Prize for Photography was a crowning glory.
  50. Femi Aluko: Is Chowdeck easily the non-fintech breakout app of the year? Yes, it finally brought the ease and elegance of Uber Eats to Nigeria, and a generation of frazzled Gen Z say thank you.
  51. Femi Falana: Recognised with the hall of fame award for civic activism by BudgIT this year, he didn’t need that to remind us of how important he is to the body politic, as a voice of explanation, accountability and governance that works.
  52. Fisayo Fosudo: The TechPoint Africa Audience Choice Award for the best visual storyteller of the year was completely well deserved. He has owned his niche as a tech storyteller and reinvented himself as something beyond a Youtuber this year. There is everything to admire about the steadiness of his vision and execution.
  53. FK Abudu & Jola Ayeye: They shut down an event in London and Lagos, retained their spot as Nigeria’s number one podcast and the irrepressible Jola continues to be the queen of the viral one liner. Well done.
  54. Founder of Instablog: They determine what rises to the top, what people pay attention to and what stays cool. They continue to be the number one high priest of the culture.
  55. Fu’ad Lawal: He completed the first phase of Archivi.ng(http://archivi.ng/), which involved scanning one newspaper a day from 1960 to 2010. He hosted and produced a podcast series called “The Archive”, where he interviewed prominent Nigerians who have witnessed or shaped history, such as Wole Soyinka. He is already one of the most important contemporary voices in the media, but when he succeeds in his mission – and Lord, please let him succeed – he will become of the most important storytellers of any generation.
  56. Funke Akindele: She is the most successful filmmaker of the day. Everything she touches turns to gold. Even politics couldn’t stain her white. And Funke continues to win, win, win. Forget a clime that doesn’t often respect comedy, it is important that she gets the respect she has so clearly won.
  57. Funso Doherty: If you want a masterclass on how to be an opposition figure, look no further than Lagos gubernatorial candidate, Funso Doherty. With the confidence of a master, the steadiness of a cool hear, and the power of data, he has managed, with civility and dignity, to galvanize for accountability amongst digitally connected Lagosians in a way we haven’t recently seen.
  58. Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi: What courage it took Gbemi to leave all she was familiar with and extremely good at to go in to the world and make change happen. Somehow she has both anchored the most viral travel campaigns of the year from her corporate perch at Wakanow as well as finally transformed TNC Africa as executive producer into a mainstream culture shaper. That’s in addition, of course, to the continued brilliance of her podcast ‘Off Air’.
  59. Genevieve Nnaji: Just because this queen knows herself. She knows herself fully. She knows who she is. She knows when to show up and when to disappear. She knows when to speak and when to be silent. And no matter what happens, she never panics, she never explains, she never drops her crown. We can’t wait to see her new executive produced-film. I do not come to you by chance charm an entire nation.
  60. Gloria ‘Maraji’ Oloruntobi: The fearless leader of those with unpopular opinions and those who have no interest in being cool, Maraji owned the year in Nigeria despite leaving Nigeria and the competitiveness of the content creator space for a life of peace in Ghana. From showing off her unmatchable talent to her strongly held stances on cultural issues to sharing clips of motherhood, she continued to drive the conversation and confirm that she has no peer.
  61. Gloria ‘Maraji’ Oloruntobi (deliberately repeated because she is amazing)
  62. Hauwa Lawal: From ‘writing engaging tweets to a successful comic book’ Lawal solidified a winning streak from a rare niche this year.
  63. Ihechi Opara: His event Movies in the Park is perhaps the biggest Gen Z movie event in the country, making Opara immediately a powerful tastemaker and influencer.
  64. IK Osakioduwa: Look, there is no host on the face of this continent as good as IK. None. Zero. Zilch. To watch him control the audience like an orchestra conductor at the AMVCAs, to hear him coral the crowd with his voice alone at The Experience is to watch an incandescent talent do its thing. We stand in awe.
  65. Ikeade Oriade: WhatKeptMeUp is the most respected platform reporting on and reviewing Nollywood, and despite a shameful lack of support for such a crucial platform, this year he continued to curate the industry’s highs and lows with talent and integrity.
  66. Iremide Adeoye: He easily takes it for his leading, layered role in the popular Wura, but he won respect for his turn in Madam KoiKoi. This young man takes his craft extremely seriously, and it appears he is just getting started.
  67. Ireti Kingibe: There was a collective cheer across the digital space when the immensely likeable Kingibe was declared winner of Federal Capital Territory senatorial seat, displacing the part that had held the seat for over 10 years. It was a fairytale and no one could have predicted it when she cast her long shot hat into the ring. But again, she symbolizes the beauty of a functioning democracy.
  68. Iyabo Ojo: Fierce, loud, irrepressible, you can say anything about Ojo but you can’t ignore her. She won’t allow it.  There is a clear sense that she is having a blast in the forefront of the culture, crisscrossing movies, reality TV, YouTube series and her TV show.
  69. Jade Osiberu: The first half of 2023 belonged to Jade Osiberu, no question about that. She had 3 of the country’s biggest films including the sublime The Trade, swept up the awards, and kept us waiting for what comes next.
  70. Jerry Eze: Nigeria’s most viral pastor continued to fill out venues across the world, to dominate the charts on YouTube and to be a source of hope every morning through the NSPPD prayers.
  71. Jimmy Odukoya: It was interesting to see the hoopla around Odukoya’s succession of his respected father as Senior Pastor of Fountain of Life Church considering that anyone who knows the story knows he has been a key pillar of the church’s growth and reinvention including with the youth ministry Church 3:16. Will his ascension and his band of rebels usher in a new era for the faith in Nigeria? It’s too soon to say, but judging by the viral clips we have since seen? He is off to a splendid start.
  72. Josh ‘Josh2funny’ Alfred: His appearance on the America’s Got Talent stage is easily and deservedly one of the most definitive moments in the culture this year. But also appropriately so, because very few are as talented as this young man who has given the culture too many viral trends. The innovativeness of his comedy and the vastness of his mind continue to make a way for him.
  73. Joy Ezeilo: One of Nigeria’s most decorated academics ever, the former dean of law at the University of Nigeria Nsukka and former state commissioner continued her passionate work of activism to end violence against women and girls (VAWG) or Gender-Based Violence (GBV). During the launch of this year’s event and Parliamentary Summit on Funding and Oversight for the VAPP Implementation on November 24th, 2023, she brings a scholarly rigour to her work that ensures governments and policy shapers cannot afford not to pay attention.
  74. Kareem Quadri Ajibola: Do you know ‘Alfa youth’? The popular content creator and Muslim sermon influencer, Kareem Quadri Ajibola, also known as Aridunnnu, has created a space for himself in an unusual niche – reaching a generation of Muslims with messages about the more public-facing duties of the faith, including charity and giving.
  75. Kate Henshaw: Call her the mother of the culture and you won’t be wrong. The ageless Kate who has been constantly A list and relevant for 3 decades, has both managed to be one of Nigeria’s most credible activist voices, most bankable creative talent as well as the enabler of an entire set of Gen Z stars.
  76. Kayode Ojuolape Jnr.: Easily the year’s breakout star, this talented young man took lead roles in Kunle Afolayan’s Ijogbon and Uche Jombo’s Onyeegwu and James Amuta’s Black Harvest, it is abundantly clear he is ready for his turn.
  77. Kehinde Bankole: One of her generation’s most respected actresses, her role in Sista this year took the nation by storm, and helps her continue a run of relevance and high regard that is unlikely to end anytime soon.
  78. Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju: She is without a doubt Nigeria’s number one producer, merging a deep knowledge of the industry with a clarity of vision that directors often lack. What must it be like to have the number one film from West Africa in the world’s two biggest streaming platforms? Please, give the woman her flowers.
  79. Maria Chike: It’s not easy to keep your head up when the culture chooses to make you its scapegoat. And this was a tough year in that regard for Chike. But she held her head up with dignity, with sweetness and with perspective, and both personally with her baby and professionally with her heartfelt TV show she kept it moving. There is something there that is to be admired.
  80. Mark Angel: What Mark Angel is doing with his network of channels is nothing short of a wonder, steadily and fiercely building a network of comedy brands with an almost endless shelf life. The scale of his vision is intimidating.
  81. May Edochie: Listen to her legend: She won the culture simply by choosing to be silent and dignified in the fact of a public onslaught due to a public marriage. She became a model for handling grief, loss, and change without losing one’s footings. And her father-in-law’s viral endorsement of her on #WithChude settled the matter: Everybody Loves May.
  82. Mazim Jamarkani: As our love affair with the Lagos coastline continues, we are excited to see Sol Beach add color and character to the Lekki axis. It has the perfect balance of busyness and calm, with thoughtful aesthetics that bring joy. It will be amazing to see how it grows and we hope it doesn’t lose its soul.
  83. Mo Abudu: People keep underestimating Mo Abudu, and she keeps outstripping her past achievements. How did she move from showrunner of Nigeria’s biggest movie and television studio, while being owner of one of its most exclusive lifestyle location, founder of one of its biggest creatives schools to director of films that have become festival darlings. Let’s settle this one for all: Mo is iconic.
  84. Moromoluwatiketike Abolaji-Adeola: One of the year’s breakout influencers, ‘Mummy Pastor’ found a niche somewhere at the intersection of her faith, comedy and music and the culture has fallen in love with her for it.
  85. Moses Babatope: The FilmOne Group is often taken for granted, but it is important to remember that nothing like this existed when it started and quickly built the infrastructure that has enabled Nollywood’s voice and reach across the world. Babatope, with his partner, is the relentless globe-trotting glue that helped build the industry’s backbone. He has built the industry’s most important community, including the cinemas, the distribution network and now the studios, beyond anyone’s possible imagination. It was a shock to discover this year that he only just turned 40.
  86. Mr & Mrs C: We have heard the duo behind Iroko Critic called the most credible movie critics and we don’t disagree. They breakdown the movie in a way that is constructive, ensuring you can’t dismiss them or easily call them ‘haters’. Their twitter space has become incredibly influential for a new school of film makers, and we hope their works get more mainstream.
  87. Mr M and Revelation: The hottest Christian concert draws not names Chioma Jesus or Nathaniel Bassey, no Christian concert is complete without them closing it off. This year they continued to shine.
  88. Murja Kunya: Running constantly afoul of Sharia police in Nigeria’s northwest city of Kano, the TikToker Murja stands as a symbol of defiance. Because what’s the point of democracy without free expression? The way she has led a band of creators to circumvent and test the limits of suppressive laws while maintaining influence is a beauty to watch.
  89. Nasiruddin Shuraim Abdulmumin: Just 28 and a scholar of Islamic Theology, this young man, who has interviewed and ties as a mentor to the YouTube phenomenon, has decided to use social media as a tool to teach, guide, and mentor young Muslims, continuing a tradition of young people trusting relatable influencers over traditional religious leaders. All of this pioneering he does while running a conventional business on the side.
  90. Natasha Akpoti: In 2018, she came to prominence ‘after presenting an investigative report to the National Assembly on 1 March 2018 on corrupt activities regarding the Ajaokuta steel mill. The report detailed the repetitive waste of government funds and embezzlement since the initial construction of the steel mill which has remained moribund despite multiple attempts to get it running. The report was opposed by the Federal ministry of mines and steel development and Akpoti was accused of deliberately misinforming the House of Representatives. An association of small-scale steel dealers also alleged that Akpoti was running a sponsored campaign to discredit the government and enrich some corporate interests. A High Court sitting in Abuja ordered the publisher of Authority newspaper, Ifeanyi Uba and Williams Orji to pay the sum of ten million naira in damages to Natasha Akpoti for their libelous publication against her.’  That same year she quit her job to run for office in the same National Assembly. This year she became a senator, affirmed by the electoral tribunal and the Court of Appeal. How’s that for a full circle?
  91. Niyi Akinmolayan: Niyi is playing a game so long term it’s stunning to see. His studio empire – music, production, post-production, animation – has become the backbone for much of the industry’s crucial needs. He is equipping a new generation with the Anthill Academy and he still manages to make films that keep people talking.
  92. Niyi Fagbemi: Here is a photographer who has captured the culture this year. He took the incredible picture of the Ojude 2023 festival that went viral this year and continues to have an eye for the more stunning aspects of our culture,
  93. Obianuju Iloanya: Iloanya is a singular figure. In a country where people often move on from tragedies because the system makes them powerful, she has fearlessly refused to be silenced – staring down governors, the police and social media critics crying for justice for 10 years for her brother who has been missing for as many years. She was the subject of the award winning ‘Awaiting Trial’ movie and this year returned to the streets on a one women protest for her still missing brother. This 20 something year old is an inspiration to us all.
  94. Ohimai Atafo: Atafo with his now-vintage brand ATAFO never gets old. He was easily the year’s most celebrated designer, not just making statements with the hottest celebrities to multiple era-defining collections, this icon never gets old.
  95. Okolo Miracle ‘Swazzi’ Obiechina: He is responsible for the Afrobeats look. The stylist of choice for its biggest global acts, the work Swazzi has done with everyone from Asake to Ayra Starr has come to define how we see and remember our biggest hits.
  96. Olamide Adedeji: Not just a star, not just an icon, but perhaps the industry’s most important star and king maker not named Don Jazzy, he already had nothing to prove including to those who called him a local champion. But just for fun, this year, the universe choice to make the point clearer with the feature in Billboard’s 2023 International Power Players List and of course the Grammys nomination.
  97. Olasupo Olusi: The news that Olasupo Olusi has been made the new managing director of the Bank of Industry warmed the heart for two reasons. First, that government institution is one of the very few that Nigerians can visibly point to as delivering on its mandate as far as they can see. The other? Olusi as the engine room of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s second term as finance minister created one of the most successful government interventions ever with YouWIN! If both man and institution maintain momentum, something special is about to happen.
  98. Olu Akanmu: He may have left Opay as CEO this year, but he easily gets credit for helping ensure the dominance a payment platform that Nigerians themselves excitedly speak of, because it fully delivers on the much-touted promises of fintech.
  99. Olubunmi Tunji Ojo: Nigeria’s entire passport system has always been a mess, and then this new minister comes in, clears the backlogs, properly automates systems and begins to beat records for least number of weeks we have to wait for our passports to arrive. It’s a miracle really.
  100. Olufemi Oguntamu Penzaar: Recognized as one of the ‘Top 35 under 35 Marketing Communication Professionals in Nigeria’ at the Brandcom awards, this young man has built a communication company with a clear voice in a crowded field, and his management company working for everyone from Broda Shaggi to Layi Wasabi has solidified his influence and his impact.
  101. Olumide ‘ID Cabasa’ Ogunade: Who gets famous these days for being so wise? ID Cabasa, that’s who. He first went viral on his interview #WithChude, winning the respect of young and old with his humility and perspective. Soon after, he was there spitting wisdoms and learnings on the Honest Bunch podcast. And there was his voice loud and clear on the matter of Mohbad. We hope we continue to hear from him.
  102. Oluseyi Ekisola: Just imagine what it must feel like to have Spotify release its top podcast lists every year and for three of your podcasts to always be on it. With I said what I said, Toke Moments and Tea with Tay, Seyi continues to win. But not before blockbuster events and sold out audiences with the ISWIS crew this year. Making him, with the company Eggcorn, officially the owner of Nigeria’s biggest podcast network.
  103. Oluwamayowa Idowu: His platform, Culture Custodian has continued to be one of the primary interpretations of contemporary culture trends and happenings with an authority and nuance that is rare – covering a vast array of themes including movies, music and literature. To have maintained its momentum for so many years in a country that eats the souls of niche media platforms very quickly? No small feat.
  104. Omokhudu Idogho: There are many civil society organisations that have stood in the gap for years and decades, sometimes away from public view, but also in the service of the public, and the Society for Family Health is one of them, fighting malaria and providing healthcare services for large numbers across the country. This year it announced a new strategy for a new generation, ensuring that its impact continues.
  105. Omoyemi Akerele: The Lagos Fashion and Design Week continues to be the country’s most important fashion event. For a brand that has been doing this for two decades to keep going strong, despite Akerele’s understated leadership it’s a miracle. May the magic continue.
  106. Oyinkansola ‘Ayra Starr’ Sarah Aderibigbe: Nominee for “Best Afro Beat” category at the 2023 MTC EMAs, nominated in the International act category of 2023 BET Awards, this irrepressible young woman who does it her own way apparently ended the year with what? A Grammy nomination.
  107. Paul Adefarasin: He continues to host the three biggest gospel events in the culture in the region: The Experience, The African Praise and The Spirit Life Conference where Sarah Jakes came this year and brought heaven down. That’s no small feat.
  108. Paul Onwuanibe: The Landmark Group is perhaps singularly responsible for the reawakening of the Lekki coastline, that has now drawn a coterie of colourful investors. We thank them for bringing colour back to a city whose beauty is often neglected, and one has to thank Onwuanibe’s relentless vision for keeping everyone’s eyes on the ball and the possibilities. Landmark is literally a vision.
  109. Prince, Founder of A Wacko’s Review: I fell in love with the beauty, empathy, wisdom and fandom of this Nollywood cheerleader’s YouTube reviews – where he combines a deep respect for the industry’s story telling traditions with a capacity to tell the truth in A way that people can actually listen and learn from.
  110. Rahama Sadau: The Plan is easily the most successful series or movie this year set in Northern Nigeria, and of course everyone’s darling was lead actor. But also she was producer, which means there is more where all her likeable talent comes from. Including being host of the AMAA Awards 2023.
  111. Rita Dominic: She was the delightful March 2023 cover of Open Country Magazine, she took over the administration of the Miss Nigeria Organization and she had the wedding of the year. We continue to love Rita because she is the celebrity’s celebrity.
  112. Rosemary Okoli: She has made architecture cool, transforming spaces from the Landmark Beach to multiple beach front and luxury property across the country. In a nation where luxury, travel, tourism continues to sadly be relegated, she has become a voice for what is possible.
  113. Ruth Kadiri: Ruth Kadiri was queen of Rok and Africa Magic. But did you know she has gone on to become the most important producer of Nollywood films on YouTube both in English and French? Focused, silent, lethal. Her millions of views per video tell the story better than we ever could.
  114. Samson Itodo: His organization YIAGA was a preeminent election monitor that delivered report before and after election in a way that was incredibly useful for people in the field and for the public.
  115. Samuel Ogundipe: His platform Peoples Gazette has established itself as go to for contextual reportage and analysis of the country’s current events, ensuring that you are able tie what just happened with the larger context in which it did. It has been consistent in this way, and has won itself dedicated audiences for this feat.
  116. Seun Okinbaloye: Yes, nations need hot heads. But nations also need calmer heads. And for keeping his head and his cool while doing his job everyday on Nigeria’s number one news station Channels TV, Okinbaloye won a lot of respect this year.
  117. Shehu Sani: If he is disturbed that some call him a Twitter troll, he hasn’t shown it. Instead, with humour and sass, he has continued to interpret and contextualise political happenings and incentives in the country in a way only a former insider could. Whatever the motivation, it’s an important public service.
  118. Somto Ifezue: The love people have for the corporate brand that is Piggyvest is something unusual. The founders of the company have created something special, and Ifezue, its CEO deserves praise.
  119. Stephen Ndukwu: Go watch Ndukwu’s powerful travelogue of the Obudu Cattle Ranch on YouTube and the failure of governance or his special series on young digital millionaires, and you realise this is someone who expertly weaves meaningful content that connects with mainstream audiences on YouTube with some of the most sparkling images of Africa that you can find. He deserves his spot in the mainstream.
  120. Steve Babaeko: His Agency, X3M Ideas became the 1st Cannes Lion winner from West Africa this year, capping a lifetime’s work of a relentless pursuit of excellence. Babaeko has been single minded about this goal: To be the continent’s benchmark for advertising. It has consumed and animated his life’s work, and to see it finally accomplished in. the region, in addition to already being the agency of choice? It’s both inspiring and inspired.
  121. Sunmisola Agbebi: Nigeria’s breakout gospel star gets everyone on their knees when she begins to worship.
  122. Tayo Oyedeji: Insight Redefini is the region’s biggest communication group, a sterling example of corporate governance in an industry where conglomerates die very quickly. Oyedeji was appointed group CEO about two years ago, after lifer and legend, Ken Onyeali-Ikpe left the group’s leadership. No small shoes to fill. But he has filled them excellently – retaining and winning major accounts, cleaning out the awards at industry events, and relaunching the management trainee programme that once built the group as a force. Insight is an important corporate success story, and so this growth is a powerful model of what is possible.
  123. Teju ‘Babyface’ Oyelakin: Call it a come back. After years away from television, Teju Babyface returned with a new format, a new aesthetic but the same brilliance. Finding his space immediately in the culture made it clear that neither time, location nor circumstance can silence talent.
  124. Temi Otedola: Why does everyone love this Otedola? Because she makes being rich seem relatable, she brings a quality of authenticity that is rare, and she has a keen eye for what the culture wants,
  125. Temitope Dada: A new generation of visual storytellers has been done, with the ability to use tools to do magic that we couldn’t have imagined possible. Oluwadabest is at the forefront – from ads to documentaries to music videos for Ayra Starr, he symbolizes the very best of a new look and feel for video content.
  126. Teni ‘The Entertainer’ Apata: Don’t you just love the way Teni stays on her lane and does her thing? Still, she managed to win four awards at the 2023 Headies Awards, perform at the 2023 BET Awards and end the year with a third album that got everyone talking.
  127. TG Omori: TG Omori has been the director of choice for the music videos of Nigeria’s top artistes. No one else has come close in the past few years.
  128. The Adebayo Family: The brothers released action movie Jagun Jagun with Tope Adebayo as co-director and Femi Adebayo as producer. But look closer and you would see that their father, popularly known as Oga Bello was a key part of the storytelling magic. It is important to overstate how Jagun Jagun shook the industry and the culture this year, so soon after King of Thieves last year, so that it cements this family as Nigerian Filmmaking Royalty.
  129. The Bamiloye Family: The Mount Zion family returned to the top of consciousness this year by building out their digital platforms with millions of views, securing a dedicated cable channel, winning multiple awards, making multiple members of their families stars, and enabling a revival in religious content.
  130. The ladies of Your View (Morayo Afolabi-Brown, Yeni Kuti, Mariam Longe, Obiajulu Ugboh, Akashat Nymat, Temitope Mark Odigie): It’s not easy to remain a leading talk show on terrestrial TV for years on end, but the ladies of Your View have accomplished that feat led by their general Morayo Afolabi-Brown. They deserve praise.
  131. Titoluwa Sam-Oladapo: A content creator’s niche being praying? And why not. Tito’s story of dealing with vaginismus has inspired so many just as her content tired around her faith has cemented her place in the culture,
  132. Tobi A. Oluwatola: Dubawa is responsible for the most expansive fact-checking operation in the country, one that becomes crucial in a time of rampant fake news. Good journalism is indispensable facts matter. Therefore, we thank them.
  133. Tobi Amusan: Because she doesn’t get tired of achieving, she earned a Master of Arts degree in Leadership Studies and Sports Management at the University of Texas at El Paso in May 2023. Soon after, in July 2023, Amusan clocked a new season best of 12.34 seconds in the 100m Hurdles at the Silesia Diamond league meet. First Nigerian to be nominated for the Laureus World Sports Award for Breakthrough of the Year. And so brilliance goes.
  134. Tobi Bakre: Won the Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) on the  29th October 2023 for his lead role in the movie Gangs of Lagos, won his first-ever award at the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards (AMVCA) 2023 as best actor, won the acting awards at The Future Awards in October 2023, won hearts and minds across the country. Keeps winning.
  135. Tochukwu ‘OdumoduBlvck’ Gbubemi Ojogwu: He won the Headies awards for the ‘Rookie of the Year’ (September 2023), won the Best Rap Single – “Declan Rice”. On 23rd January 2023, he ranked number 4 on Turn Table’s NXT Emerging Top Artistes. And signed an exclusive deal with Def Jam Recordings upon the release of EZIOKWU mixtape. Was 2023 not Odumodu’s year?
  136. Toke Makinwa: She won the Forbes Best of Africa Media Award 2023 for her outstanding contribution to the media industry in Africa. There is nothing she doesn’t make trend. And her podcast Toke Moments is one of the country’s top podcasts. Oh, and TM Luxury, her fashion brand, does real business. Call her the Queen of All Media.
  137. Tokunbo George-Taylor: She has run the Nigeria shop of one of the world’s top Public Relations companies for years, and then this year she finally took it over and made it her own wholly Nigerian company. For one of the era’s most significant corporate communication leaders, building the Oando brand from scratch, this was a crowning moment.
  138. Tomiwa Aladekomo: One of the most love brands by the digitally connected elite, the man behind TechCabal and Zikoko continues to hold the brand strong, innovate and win.
  139. Toyin Abraham: One of the most prolific filmmakers of the day, Abraham doesn’t stop, doesn’t slow down, and as she showed many in the elections doesn’t allow anyone bully her. It is crucial that people are able to make their democratic choices without being silenced or targeted. For that courage of conviction till the very end, and for multiple nominations at the AMVCAs, Abraham deserves accolades.
  140. Tucker Okolo: Chef Tucker came into limelight this year as the chef of choice in Lagos, after many years honing his craft and reinventing himself, proving that there is almost nothing as powerful as consistency.
  141. Tunde ‘Ednut’ Olaoluwa Adekunle: Tunde continues to have the magic touch for transforming everyday creators into superstars. Too many artistes and creators thank him for blowing them up with his irrepressible blog. And he hasn’t slowed down.
  142. Uche Pedro: Bella Naija has remained the platform of choice for the discerning. Amid the noise, she has built and sustained a brand that is premium and lush, and it is worth emulating for everyone who thinks that all you need to survive in this environment is violence.
  143. Uchechi ‘Adakirikiri’ Treasure: Another YouTube juggernaut who is barely out of her teens, her full length music, her viral music and her all round talent shows a level of genius in content creation that must inspire her peers.
  144. Veekee James: TFAA Winner of Prize for Fashion Award, James also became a viral sensation this year, combining a clear talent with a skill for driving conversation.
  145. Victor Sanchez Aghahowa: He is the creative voice of Africa Magic and Showmax, with perhaps the deepest experience in serving Nigerian audiences with content. He has made it possible for the younger sibling of the streamers to continue to hold its ground and emphasized the eternal truth that content is king.
  146. Victoria ‘Veeiye’ Adeyele: From being the star of Funke Akindele’s She Must Be Obeyed to hosting The Future Awards Africa, then former #BBNaija star has pushed her way to the front of the industry and there is no holding back.
  147. Wasiu Omogbolahan Olasunkanmi ‘K1 The Ultimate’ Adewale Ayinde Marshal: Got coronated on the 26th of September 2023 as the new Olori Omo Oba Akile of Ijebuland. But he is already coronated in our hearts as the legend that never gets old. On the #WithChude show this year, Davido’s manager Asa said may they last forever like K1. The industry is saying a big amen.
  148. Wisdom Nsima (Dr. H2O): The viral hawker who captured the hearts of so many, Nsima’s life stepped when a brand took him from the streets and set up a business with him, reminding us powerful that the culture isn’t defined only by the rich and the famous.
  149. Wole Soyinka: This year, he showed the young’uns what has made him a terror to oppressive regimes over many decades. You think a couple trending topics will cower the man? WS rose up to full height and gave as good as he got during the elections as trending topics turned against him. And he is still standing.
  150. ‘Yemi Adamolekun: The leader of Enough is Enough Nigeria continues to be on the scene, pushing a variety of good governance and activism causes beyond their remit, supporting an ecosystem of changemakers and good governance fighters. She never gets tired.

 

 

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