3For a nation so blessed with outstanding human capital and natural resources but still falls short of good governance, Nigeria has a huge list of powerful and influential women. Women who have climbed the ladder of society and at the same time are pushing for societal transformation as well as the inclusion of women in the eventual positive change that the country is in dire need of.
The list below is by no means exhaustive; but it was curated from several sources where these powerful women have been repeatedly mentioned as change-makers and great influencers of the Nigerian citizen. These women have used their resources and energy to prove that Nigerian women are problem solvers that can no longer the swept under the carpet. Here we present to you the top 10 most powerful women in Nigeria at present. (In no particular order)
Top 10 Most Powerful Women in Nigeria 2023
- Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
- Hajia Amina J. Mohammed
- Dr. Oby Ezekwesili
- Aisha Yesufu
- Abike Dabiri-Erewa
- Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Mosúnmọ́lá Abudu
- Ìbùkún Awosika
- Chief Mrs Felicia Sani
- Bola Shagaya
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1. NGOZI OKONJO-IWEALA
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a native of Ogwashi-Uku in Delta State of Nigeria, born in the year 1954. The astute economist and graduate of Harvard University is currently the Director-General of the World Trade Organization. This was a position she tooj up since 2021 till date (and the only female and African ever to do so). She has served in various capacities as a member of the World Bank group for more than two decades, and led several World Bank projects to help poor countries scale through the global financial crisis between 2007 and 2008. This truly powerful woman was Finance minister and later on, Foreign Affairs minister of Nigeria between 2003 and 2015. During her tenure serving as a public officer in Nigeria, she further introduced reforms that would mitigate corruption and improve transparency in government finances, as well as bravely negotiating for Nigeria’s foreign debts to be drastically reduced.
2. HAJIA AMINA JANE MOHAMMED
Ms. Hajia Jane Mohammed is a Fulani-British woman born in Liverpool, United Kingdom in the year 1961. A seasoned diplomat and politician, she is currently the deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations since 2017. Hajia Amina fervently worked to advance both the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Prior to this, she worked hard for improved design of schools and clinics; better access to education, healthcare and various other social services in Nigeria. And she eventually rose up the ranks to serve as an adviser under four tenures of successive Nigerian presidents before proceeding to the United Nations.
3. OBY EZEKWESILI
Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili was born in Anambra State of Nigeria in the year 1963. She is a chartered accountant, economic and human policy expert and an activist, a graduate of Harvard University. Between 2005 and 2007, she served twice as minister of the federal republic of Nigeria . First as Minister of Solid Minerals, then later as Minister of Education. She has since then served as former vice president of the World Bank covering the Africa region. Also as a co-founder of Transparency International, and actively fought for the #BringBackOurGirls movement (during the kidnap of Chibok girls in Nigeria) amongst many other social impact programs.
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4. AISHA YESUFU
Aisha Somtochukwu Yesufu was born in the year 1973 in Edo State. Mrs Yesufu is a businesswoman and activist who grew up in Kano. She rose to became a powerful force in the struggle for human rights when she joined protesters on a march to the National Assembly in Abuja, following the unnerving 2014 abduction of the 200 Chibok school girls in Borno state of Nigeria, a move that birthed the #BringBackOurGirls campaign.
She was also a prominent voice in the #endSARS movement of 2017 to protest against police brutality which occurred at Lekki Toll gate in Lagos. Ever since then, she has doggedly continued to speak against any abuse or inhuman act exhibited against citizens of Nigeria. Having attended three universities (due to circumstances she could not control) before she succeeded in graduating from Bayero University in Kano, she has a degree in Microbiology. However, her vision of becoming a businesswoman led her to establish two businesses – Oceangate Distributiin service (tomato importation business), and Aliyyah and Amir Ventures limited (distribution and trading in raw materials).
5. ABIKE DABIRI-EREWA
Abike Oluwatoyin Dabiri-Erewa, born in the year 1962 in the Jos plateau is an Ikorodu-Lagos indigene with many years of outstanding broadcasting experience at the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to her credit, before she eventually moved into politics. This powerful woman of Nigerian politics is a graduate of Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. She was reputed to be an investigative broadcaster who used her work to bring help to so many needy children, women and less privileged persons. She served as Chairman of several committees in the House of Representatives one after the other since 2003; and has been on the forefront of pushing for fair treatment of Nigerians in the diaspora as a government officer working closely with the Nigerian Presidency as we speak.
6. CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE
Chimamanda Adichie, born in 1976 in Enugu State of Nigeria, is a celebrated novelist and short story writer, an acclaimed feminist with family connections to the late Chinua Achebe of repute, who subsequently was one of her mentors. Born to a professor father and a university registrar both of the University of Nigeria Nsukka.
Chimamanda’s family was badly affected by the Nigerian Civil war. Her undergraduate studies in Medicine and Pharmacy which began in the University of Nigeria was interrupted after one and a half years, as she proceeded to complete her Bachelors degree in the United States culminating in a Bachelor of Arts at the Eastern State Connecticut University in 2001.
In spite of her medical origins, Chimamanda excelled in writing; she wrote poems and plays as an undergraduate. Her first globally-acclaimed novel ‘The Purple Hibiscus’ went on to receive the Commonwealth Writers prize in 2003; her second novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ won the Orange prize in 2007; and she received the macArthur Fellowship in 2008. This highly influential woman is a powerful voice standing unapologetically in defence of the African identity in the US, feminism, and Nigerian culture – and she is not afraid to voice her opinions when deemed necessary.
7. MOSUNMOLA ABUDU
Mosunmola Abudu (popularly known as Mo Abudu) was born in 1964 and schooled in the UK, having graduated from the University of Westminster. She is a former human resources consultant, a media house executive/owner and a philanthropist who has produced (and co-produced) Nigerian movies such as ‘The Wedding Party’ 1 & 2, ‘Chief Daddy’ 1 & 2, ‘Oloture’, and ‘Royal Hibiscus Hotel’.
This powerful and influential woman has contributed in promoting the Nigerian film industry worldwide and so is worthy of mention. She is the owner of Ebonylive TV, reputed to be Africa’s first black global entertainment network; that has also gone forth additionally to create a bouquet of interesting drama series such as ‘The Governor’ and ‘Desperate Housewives Africa’ in a bid to project Nigeria and Africa in a more positive light to the world. She has won many global awards and is recognized as an authoritative speaker on the media and entertainment industry in Nigeria and Africa at large.
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8. IBUKUN AWOSIKA
Ìbùkún Motunrayo Awosika, born in Ibadan Oyo State in the year 1962, is a graduate of Chemistry from the University of Ife; who proceeded to obtain MBA and related top-notch training from several globally acclaimed business schools – including the Lagos Business School; the IESE Business School of Spain, and C.E.I.B.S Business School of Wharton UK.
She is an author, motivational speaker, a business magnate in the furniture industry, and a member of the boards of several high networth companies. Such companies include Cadbury Nigeria Plc; First Bank of Nigeria; and Digital Jewels Limited. She has been blessed with an impressive array of national and international awards till date. The exceptional woman has wielded a lot of power and influence to mentor many Nigerian women and youths through several seminars and trainings to become entrepreneurs with a focus.
9. CHIEF MRS. FELICIA SANI
Chief Felicia Atuma Sani who hails from Ukwuani LGA of Delta state, was born in 1936. She is the National Chairman of the Association of Commodity Market Women and Men Association of Nigeria. And why would we not mention this highly influential and powerful woman leader? She is a force to reckon with, wielding great influence to mobilize women (especially market women) to partake actively in elections. Felicia Sani was reported to be heavily involved in building the Wuse market in Abuja.
She has called for the education and empowerment of the girl-child at every opportunity. In her local community of Ezhionum where she was born, she was said to be primarily responsible for restoring electricity to the area. Her achievements are not adequately captured in available sources but with these few testimonies, it is clear how powerful this woman is, in the eyes of the politicians and government officers of Nigeria.
10 BOLA SHAGAYA
Hajia Bola Muinat Shagaya was born in 1959 in Ilorin Kwara State into a middle-class family. She graduated from the Ahmadu Bello University with a degree in Economics. Then proceeded to the USA to further her studies. Bola Shagaya returned to Nigeria to take up an auditor job at the Central Bank of Nigeria, and from there henceforth – the unbelievable story of glory began for this powerful woman of industry, who began her journey into entrepreneurship in the year 1983 at the tender age of 24.
She is the owner of Bolmus International Limited, the mother company through which the Konica brand and its array of photographic materials was introduced into Nigeria and West Africa. Not stopping there, she set up Fotofair photo laboratory in Victoria Island which soon established branches across the country, promoting the Konica brand.
Bolmus International has since diversified into other well-known businesses in the oil and gas, banking, real estate and communications sectors. She has received many prestigious awards. Also served on the boards of respectable organizations, and is a fashion, sports and art freak. This serial entrepreneur and role model has proven that any determined Nigerian woman can conquer the business world.
The list above is in no particular order, unlike the richest women in Nigeria whose wealth is exact. Power sometimes has nothing to do with money. What are your thoughts on the list? Are we missing anything? Please let us know using the comment section below.
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