By Ighomuaye Lucky
They are young, brilliant and cerebral. In addition to those personal attributes is their abiding love for their fatherland. If you call them patriots and shining stars, you would not be wrong. Not only have they distinguished themselves in their various chosen fields, they have left indelible footprints in public service. And they still have so many arrows in their quiver. They are the whiz kids of the All Progressives Congress (APC). With an array of them in its fold, stakeholders and observers believe the ruling party is on the march to birth a completely new order in the nation’s polity- transition from old to a new generation of politicians.
Speaking in Ilorin, Kwara State, during the Economic Community of West African States Youth Council Summit, recently, chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, predicted that two demographics would determine the tilt in the 2023 elections because they account for the highest voting population in the country. The INEC helmsman stated that youths and women account for more than 75 per cent of registered voters. This implies that the manner internal workings of the party facilitate emergence of a good number of young people under the age of 50 years as its standard-bearers across the country would impact on the outcomes of the election in 2023.
Ahead of the primaries, there are some young people in the APC that have been screened and will be participating in the exercise at various levels across the country.
Top on the list is Ahmad Rufai Zakari, Special Adviser to the President on Infrastructure. He is brilliance and commitment personified. Fondly called ST, Zakari, who holds the title of San Turakin Kazaure, the youngest serving cabinet-level member of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, has overseen the successful implementation of multibillion-dollar intervention projects in the nation’s power sector. Among other achievements, he has been credited with bringing organisation and coordination to all aspects of the sector.
As special adviser, he has seen to the siting and completion of infrastructure worth billions of naira across the country, including in Jigawa State, a development that has endeared him to not just Governor Mohammed Badaru Abubakar but also a vast majority of Jigawa people, which in turn led to calls from a growing movement across the state for him to run for governor.
Before joining the Buhari administration, Zakari had risen to the rank of executive director, gas-powered installed fleet and services, General Electric, United States of America. He is a pioneer member of the InfraCorp Nigeria Steering Committee (later board of directors).
Like Zakari, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi, is young and resourceful. Popularly known as Dattijo, he has his eyes on the Kaduna Central Senate seat. An international development expert and public servant, he holds a master’s degree in Development Economics and Policy from the University of Manchester. He served as a policy adviser at the executive office of United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, in New York.
He resigned from the appointment to serve the Nigerian government as the commissioner for budget and planning and, subsequently, as chief of staff to the Governor of Kaduna State.
Another shining star is Ismaeel Ahmed. A lawyer, he is a dogged progressive who has defied many odds and has always risen to the top. He is a man of many firsts. In 2011, he ran for the House of Representatives in his native Kano State under the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), founded by then General Muhammadu Buhari (retd).
On May 11, 2013, he delivered the famous speech on behalf of young people in the winding down convention of CPC in Abuja. Since then, he has been a member of more than three of the merger committees that birthed the APC in 2013 and served in more than 50 different committees at various levels for different assignments of the party. In 2015 and 2019, he served as director in the two campaigns and, more or less, became the face and voice of the campaigns.
On the heels of the formation of the APC, he founded the youth wing of the APC, known as the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF). He was its chairman from 2013. In the build-up to the general election in 2015, he served as secretary of the membership registration committee for Katsina State, member, State Congresses Committee, APC, Katsina State, and member, APC presidential primary convention committee, all in 2014.
While serving as youth representative in the CECPC and as the national youth leader of the party, he led the youths of the party to achieve a significant milestone, the most talked about first national Progressives’ Youth Conference, the setting up of youth lobby committees at the national and regional levels and the organisation and mobilisation of young people in Ibadan and Calabar for the Progressive Youth Festival, among many other firsts.
Forty years old Muhammed Brimah was Special Assistant to the President on Internally Displaced Persons (2015 to 2019) and Special Assistant to the President on Job Creation in the Office of the Vice President, from 2019 to 2020, before he went back to Kwara State to set up the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP) as general manager, under the administration of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq. He recently resigned to pursue the Ilorin East and South Federal Constituency ticket. He was one of the founding members of the All Progressives Youth Forum and co-founder of the Kwara State Alliance for Buhari Osinbajo (KABO) in 2018/2019. He holds a B.Sc in Computer Science and a certification from Havard-X in humanitarian response to conflict and disaster.
Abisoye Ayoyinka Fagade hails from Lagelu Local Government Area of Oyo State. Popularly known as Oyo Si Maa Dun, he is the group managing director/CEO of Sodium Group, a chain of companies in advertising, strategic media buying, hospitality, manufacturing, oil and gas. He served as a brand consultant to the then governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah, in 2007.
He was a gubernatorial aspirant in the Alliance for Democracy in 2011, a strategic consultant to the former governor of Kwara State, Abdulfatah Ahmed, from 2011 to 2019, and brand consultant to former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode, 2015 to 2019.
A member of the APC Progressive Youth Forum, he is running for the Senate to represent Oyo Central Senatorial District.
If you think it is impossible to possess beauty and brains, wait until you meet Maryam Musa Muhammad. Born July 16, 1983, the delectable lady hails from Lafia Local Government Area of Nasarawa State. She is president, Inner Glow Foundation, a businesswoman and has served as a media personality in her earlier years. She is aspiring to represent Lafia/Obi Federal Constituency in the 10th National Assembly.
Centina Jihad Aridi is a perfect example of a grassroots mobiliser. As far as politics of Cross River State is concerned, she cannot be pushed aside. Born September 16, 1986, she played a pivotal role as a founding member of the Action Congress in her Calabar South Ward 1, where she also served as vice-chairman when the party morphed into the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN). Following the merger in which ACN joined other legacy groups to form the APC, stakeholders did not find it difficult ceding the vice-chairmanship of Calabar South Ward 1 to her in recognition of her strategic mobilisation skills. She ran for a councillorship seat in 2017. Today, she has her eyes on the Calabar South State Constituency 1 seat in the House of Assembly.
Adenike Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin has a resume speaks eloquently for her. Former commissioner for agriculture and rural development, former commissioner for communications, former commissioner for youth development, former commissioner, Ministry of Solid Minerals Development, and member, planning and organising committee, APC National Women Conference (2022), Afolobi-Oshatimehin is a formidable force in Kwara State’s politics.
If she secures the House of Representatives ticket for Ifelodun-Offa-Oyun, observers say the election would be a walkover for the APC.
Baffa Saleh Hadejia was co-chair of the Progress Report and Rapporteur Committee of the 2022 APC National Convention. Jigawa State-born Baffa Saleh Hadejia is a House of Representatives aspirant. He is also the director of the APC Initiative for Transparency and Accountability and member of the National Youth Lobby Committee of the party.
His ambition is to represent his people at the House of Representative. An architect, public affairs analyst and public affairs commentator, he is the CEO of Ageria Farms Limited.
Muhammad Auwal Sarari (Abban Matasa, Dan Mutan Kumbotso) was born on June 29, 1986. The graduate of Bayero University, Kano, is a member of the APYF. He also served as a member of the Buhari Support Organization in 2019.
Abban, as he is popularly called, has worked as personal assistant in the office of the senior special adviser on Social Investment Programmes, Office of the Vice President, since 2017, and doubled as special assistant to Ismaeel Ahmed when he was appointed national youth leader of the APC and as representative of the youth in the CECPC. He participated at the United Nations General Assembly 2019 and 2021 as part of the presidential delegation, as well as the National Social Investment Programmes monitoring and evaluation team of the office of the Vice President.
He is running for Kumbotso Federal Constituency.
Mrs. Patience Charles Kwache is running for Madagali and Michika Federal Constituency in Adamawa State. A grassroots mobiliser and active stakeholder of the Progressives Youth of the APC, she is the coordinator of the APC-Progressive Young Women.
Sani Ahmad Kaitafi is a native of Gashua, Bade Local Government Area of Yobe State, Sani Ahmad Kaitafi is seeking the ticket to represent Bade/Jakusko in the House of Representatives. He had his primary education at the Newcapital, Asokoro, Model Secondary School, Maitama, and graduated from the University Maiduguri with a degree in Political Science. After his mandatory national youth service programme (NYSC) in Benue State, he worked with the Federal Inland Revenue Service, from 2010 to 2022, and went into politics in 2016. He was appointed special assistant to the Senate President between 2019 and 2022.
Biola Oladapo, 40, popularly known as HBO, holds a B.Sc in Systems Engineering from the University of Lagos. Oladapo is the founder of Cleanwaterforall.NG, an initiative that focuses on the provision of clean water to rural dwellers across the country, using modern technology.
An ambassador for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and CEO of Duoscape Realtors Limited, she went into politics in 2017 and ran as a candidate for the Ondo State House of Assembly in 2019. She is the commissioner representing Ondo Central in the Ondo State Oil Producing Areas Development Commission (OSOPADEC). She is running for Ondo West Constituency 2 at the House of Assembly in 2023.
Olawumi Annah Fayem is a princess from the Akenneyin royal dynasty of Mahinland in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State. Fayemi is a serial entrepreneur, maverick politician and philanthropist with 12 years’ experience in the corporate world.
A fellow of the Chartered Institute of Human Resources and Strategic Management of Nigeria, she is an alumna of the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos, with a B.Sc in Business Administration and an MBA student in the prestigious Elizade University, Ilara-Mokin, Ondo State.
As a pioneer member of the APC, she served as the second vice-chairman (South), support groups, for the Oluwarotimi Akeredolu Campaign Organisation in 2020, and member of the special interest group of the campaign organisation. She was the secretary of the Aketi’Datiwa Ondo Southern Grand Solidarity Walk 2020. She is a member of the Ondo State Progressives Youth Stakeholders and convener of the Progressives Coastal Drive, a pressure group in Ondo State, and an associate member of the Pentagon Movement Group, Ondo State chapter.
She is running for Ilaje Constituency 2, Ondo State House of Assembly.
A physicist with a master’s degree in Renewable Energy Engineering, Damilola Otubanjo, worked as a civil servant with the Lagos State Government, where she managed the Lagos Solar Project portfolio, managing solar systems in rural government schools and primary healthcare centres.
She is a philanthropist with a registered non-governmental organistaion since 2008, training and mentoring young people on social and topical issues.
He is an entrepreneur driving private businesses in the fashion and beauty products industry. She is running for Ogun Waterside, Ijebu East and Ijebu North Federal Constituency.
Another person to watch is Ishola Olateju who is eyeing the Ifelodun, Offa and Oyun Federal Constituency ticket. Born into the family of the late Mr. and Mrs. Ishola, from Igbo Owu, in Omupo Ward, Ifelodun Local Government Area of Kwara State, on March 15, 1981, Olateju is a comrade that has been actively involved in the progressive struggle form his school days.
He attended Jimoh Ojora Primary School, Brain Field College, Meran, Kwara State Polytechnic and Lead City University, Ibadan. A member of the APYF and the NYCN, she contributed significantly in the mobilisation of young people from Kwara State and the South-West as a whole during the Progressive Youth Festival in Ibadan.