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The Lagos Power List: 21 People In 21 Million

Lagos, a megacity home to an estimated 21 million people, is Nigeria’s cultural and political powerhouse.

Lagos, a megacity home to an estimated 21 million people, is Nigeria’s cultural and political powerhouse.


It’s home to Nollywood, the world’s third-largest film industry, it’s the centre of the country’s music industry and it’s also where some of the world’s happiest citizens live.

The city is expanding rapidly and the residents are increasingly connected, with social media allowing the public to better hold their government to account.

But who are the individuals driving these changes? Is it possible to identify 21 people to watch as Lagos continues to grow – both in population and as an international powerhouse?

We’ve collaborated with Guardian Africa network partners YNaija, an internet newspaper for “an evolving generation”, and, an online network of citizen journalists covering government corruption, in attempt to do just that.

Recognising that a list of the most influential personalities in politics and entertainment can never be definitive we’ve started with just 11 – listed below. We want you, our readers, to nominate the extra 10 to take us up to 21 (in 21 million).


As nominated by Sahara Reporters

Japheth Omojuwa

Japheth Omojuwa, 31, is one of Nigeria’s most prolific online commentators with his Twitter page, @omojuwa, home to some of the sharpest observations about the country’s political decay.

A fearless campaigner, he was one of the leading voices in the #BringBackOurGirls movement, demanding the rescue of the 276 school girls abducted by Boko Haram from Chibok in 2013.

He was also instrumental in the #OccupyNigeria movement which exposed endemic corruption in the government and helped the #SaveMeka campaign raise millions of naira for Rhyhm FM’s DJ Meka Akerojola, who was in need a life-saving kidney transplant.

Ikhide Ikheloa

Ikhide Ikheloa, better known as Pa Ikhide, is a maverick in a social media environment that usually takes one side or the other in Nigerian politics. Few manage to escape his damning critiques – including the country’s often-overlooked intellectual elite.

The 57-year-old’s no-holds-barred approach has earned his Twitter account,@ikhide, a substantial following, many of whom are political officials awaiting his next tirade.

And he has had an impact. Ikhide once questioned a $1m entry in Nigeria’s budget for an obscure literary association – which was subsequently removed by Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Tunde ‘Egghead’ Odewale

“Egghead” Odewale, 37, is credited as one of the first people to actively push Nigerian government officials to engage with the public on social media.

Despite previously working in government himself, Odewale’s critique of the country’s institutions has earned him a dedicated following on Twitter, where he goes by @eggheader.

His intricate knowledge of politics and pithy Tweet-analysis mean he is routinely asked by the media to weigh in on the most controversial issues.

Ayo Obe

Ayo Obe, 60, is a pivotal figure in some of Nigeria’s most influential social, legal and human rights movements.

From pressuring the government to rescue the abducted Chibok girls; shining a spotlight on violence against women and fighting for democratic reform, her ability to mobilise and inform her social media followers and to connect local injustices to national movements make her a leader in the new media environment.

Rudolf Okonkwo (Dr Damages)

Rudolf Okonkwo, otherwise know as Dr Damages, is a satirist and reporter on SaharaTV – an unapologetic jester goading the court of Nigerian leaders.

The 46-year-old’s Twitter account, @DrDamages, is an endless stream of political satire, encouraging Nigerians to laugh at the antics of the political class. But his humour cuts deeper and encourages the growing activist community to demand change.


As nominated by YNaija

Mo Abudu

Mo Abudu, “the African Oprah”, abandoned a highflying career in the corporateworld to run a television studio.

Abudu, 51, set up EbonyLife Television (ELTV) in 2013 to try to change the way the world sees Africa– and has since commissioned young film-makers to produce original content.

ELTV have also secured the franchise for developing an African version of Desperate Housewives and released Fifty, a hit drama about the lives of middle-aged Nigerian women.

Kene Mkparu

Kene Mkparu, 49, is trying to revolutionise Nollywood’s film distribution. The industry may be worth $5bn (£3bn), but film-makers struggle to make a profit because of piracy.

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The CEO of Filmhouse Cinemas, a franchise popular across the country, his staff sit in screenings with infrared glasses to identify anyone who might be trying to record a film, a practice he has previously said “breaks his heart”.

Mkparu is currently working on a project that will take film distribution directly to the grassroots through a network of community cinemas.

Olamide Adedeji

In the past five years, the 26-year-old rapper and label boss has seized the imagination of an entire nation with his catchy, locally-flavoured anthems.

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Raised in Bariga, a ghetto suburb of Lagos, Adedeji’s music represents his experiences and the yearnings and aspirations of the country’s considerable underprivileged population.

In November 2015, Olamide became the first Nigerian rapper to put out five consecutive solo albums in as many years. His label, Yahoo Boy No Laptop, is home to Lil Kesh and Viktoh, two of Nigeria’s fastest rising young talents.

Bolanle Austen-Peters

Bolanle Austen-Peters, 42, is the founder of arts and culture hub Terra Kulture, which has established itself an important venue for arts and cultural diversity in Lagos. Since 2003, the space has hosted hundreds of plays, exhibitions and readings.

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Austen-Peters produced the Broadway-esque musical Saro, “a story of love and Lagos”, in 2013 and followed up with the sold out Wakaa: The Musical in 2015. She is also the producer of the upcoming film 93 Days, an account of when the Ebola virus hit Nigeria in 2014, staring American actor Danny Glover.


Wizkid, real name Ayodeji Ibrahim Balogun, is only 25 but he has amassed a cult following usually reserved for veteran stars. He hangs out with Rihanna and Chris Brown, and records with R Kelly. Alicia Keys even confessed on Instagram to enjoying his music.


Wizkid’s album, Ayo, received tepid reviews at home but was a hit abroad, making Rolling Stone’s list of 15 great albums you didn’t hear in 2014. The following year his afropop track Ojuelegba became a big hit and was remixed by Canadian rap king Drake and UK grime star Skepta.

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Don Jazzy

Don Jazzy, real name Michael Collins Ajereh, is an award-winning music producer, singer-songwriter and record label owner who wields massive influence over the Lagos music scene. He formed Mo’hits Records in 2004 with the then little-known D’banj – who went on to become one of the biggest groups to come out of the continent.

Who are the next 10?

Who would be on your list and why? Let us know using the form below, or Whatsapp us on +44 (0) 7867 825056 and we’ll add your alternative list at the end of the week.