24 Women to Watch in 2024

…In Politics, Music, Tech, Arts, Business, Sports:

Bennett Oghifo, Ferdinand Ekechukwu, Dike Onwuamaeze, Omolabake Fasogbon in Lagos and James Emejo in Abuja  

In less than 48 hours, the year 2023 will come to an end with all its challenges, controversies and successes. No doubt, women played prominent roles in the nation’s activities in the outgoing year. As 2024 rolls in, a fresh page is being opened for them to take on bigger roles in politics, business, technology, and entertainment, among others.
Naturally, most women work silently behind the scenes, particularly those in politics and business. Regardless, it is important to watch out for these women in the new year which comes with a lot of promises and expectations. There are many women in different sectors across the nation to keep tabs on but these are the 24 women to watch in 2024:

1) Oluremi Tinubu

She is the First Lady and wife of President Bola Tinubu. Besides her present position, Senator Oluremi is an experienced politician who served as Senator representing Lagos Central for 12 years. Through her Renewed Hope Initiative, the First Lady has continued to touch lives, especially the elderly, those affected by disaster and victims of insecurity. For instance, she recently launched a N950 million Renewed Hope Initiative Elderly Support Scheme, (RHIESS), aimed to support vulnerable elderly citizens from age 65 and above in all 36 states of the federation during this festive period. Over 250 beneficiaries selected from the 20 Local Government Areas, LGAs, and 37 Local Council Development Areas, LCDAs, in Lagos, were given a sum of N100,000 each.
The First Lady had through the pet project awarded scholarships to 43 Nigerian students in tertiary institutions, ICT training and empowerment to women within the FCT, among others. The initiative had also graduated the first set of beneficiaries of its Women in ICT Training and Empowerment Programme.
Senator Oluremi is a valuable asset to her husband’s government. She is an advocate for good governance and it is expected that in 2024, she would continue to support her husband’s administration so as to improve the lives of women, children and the less privileged across the country. Nigerians look forward to more humanitarian and social projects that will spread out to the right target, with long-standing effects.

2) Betta Edu

The Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, Betta Edu, is a health professional whose expertise and opinions have counted in the design of public health policy at the national and state levels. The 37 year-old medicine and surgery graduate once served as the Commissioner for Health in Cross River State, which under her watch improved the State’s health care system to enviable status. Notably among her feats was the state’s ranking as the best child survival rate in Nigeria.  Edu is also a humanitarian actor, popular for sponsoring free health outreach in rural communities.
She was recently appointed as the new chairman of the ECOWAS Inter-Ministerial Committee on Social Protection in the West African sub-region. As the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Edu has spearheaded the resuscitation and set-up of initiatives targeted at improving the living conditions of Nigerians, especially in the poorest community. These include the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) programme, the N-Power programme, and the National Home-Grown School Feeding Programme.
Beyond her present efforts, Edu would need to take on empowerment programmes for vulnerable and less privileged citizens. All eyes are on her to change the poverty narrative of Nigeria in the global community and particularly drive workable initiatives that would improve the condition of over 133 million Nigerians living in poverty.

3) Emem Usoro

Emem Usoro is the Deputy Governor in charge of Operations at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). She oversees banking operations, branch operations, currency operations, information technology, and reserve management. An alumna of Harvard Business School and Lagos Business School, Usoro’s banking experience spans over 20 years with experience in Operations, Credit and Marketing, Branch Management, Relationship Management, Corporate and Commercial Banking.
Prior to her appointment in CBN, she was an executive director of North Bank at the United Bank for Africa (UBA).
Usoro’s exploits at UBA earned her a top spot in the bank’s ‘Superwoman 101’, an initiative dedicated to highlighting accomplished leaders and employees of the bank. Being the only woman among the CBN deputy governors, it is an opportunity for her to demonstrate her women’s leadership prowess. More so, her intervention on decisions related to price and exchange rate stability would go a long way to promote sustainable economic growth, safeguard the livelihoods of Nigerians, especially the vulnerable members of the society.

4) Hannatu Musawa

Hannatu Musawa is the Minister of Art, Culture and the Creative Economy. A lawyer by profession, Musawa has practised within and outside the country, both in the public and private sectors. In 2023, she contested for the Federal House of Representatives seat in her home state of Katsina. She is also a human and women rights activist.
She recently unveiled an 8-point agenda for her ministry tagged, ‘Destination 2030’ geared towards growth in Nigeria’s creative economy.
In fulfilling this agenda, Musawa would need to productively collaborate with the private sector to boost the sector’s growth beyond its present contributions to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Forging alliance with the media, cultural organisations and advocacy groups is vital to preservation of Nigeria’s historical and tourism sites and attraction for immediate and future gains.

5) Hadiza Bala-Usman

Hadiza Bala-Usman is the Special Adviser on Policy Coordination to President Bola Tinubu. The co-founder of ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign was also the first female Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), a position she held between 2016 and 2021.
At the NPA, Bala-Usman’s zero tolerance for corruption was brought to bear, given her proactive actions that led to the uncovering and recovery of hidden huge sums of monies, within a short time after she assumed office. She also served as the Chief of Staff to the Governor of Kaduna State between 2015 and 2016.
Bala-Usman’s new office as Special Adviser to the President on Policy Coordination places on her a responsibility to oversee the performance expectations of cabinet members. With policy coordination being one of the challenges in Nigeria, the Katsina-born politician would need to see to bridging gaps within institutions that visibly played out in the last administration. She would also need to be more active and versatile enough to block policies contradictions and conflict. More importantly, her close interaction with the Coordinating Minister for the Economy is critical for the achievement of governance objectives.

6) Doris Uzoka-Anite

Doris Uzoka-Anite is the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, charged with the role of enabling businesses across sectors so as to grow and diversify the economy. A medical doctor by training, Uzoka-Anite is a risk and portfolio management specialist. The Oguta Local Government Area, Imo State-born woman was a former General Manager at Zenith Bank Plc, before she got an appointment to serve as the Commissioner for Finance in Imo State, under Governor, Hope Uzodinma. In her first week of resuming office as minister, she received the first-ever Nigeria Investment Policy document, which primarily focuses on investment promotion, and facilitation.
Expectations are high for the minister to help diversify the country’s revenue base, attract foreign direct investment, improve forex inflows, as well as international trade.

7) Miriam Olusanya

Miriam Olusanya is an astute Nigerian banker and business executive, as well as current Managing Director/Chief Executive, Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank) Plc. She is a graduate of Pharmacy from the University of Ibadan and has a Master of Business Administration from the University of Liverpool. She joined GTBank as an executive trainee in 1998. Until her appointment as managing director, she was an executive director at the bank. GTBank is presently one of the fast-growing banks in the country. The recently released third quarter 2023 financial results of the bank reaffirmed its strong capabilities to successfully navigate the challenges in the operating environment, under the leadership of Olusanya.

8. Yemisi Edun

Yemisi Edun is the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, First City Monument Bank (FCMB). She is the first woman to ever hold the position in the bank. She assumed the position in July 2021, following the suspension of Adam Nuhu. Edun graduated with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Ife, and proceeded to the University of Liverpool, where she graduated with a master’s degree in international accounting and finance. Until her appointment as managing director, she was the chief financial officer of the bank and the acting chief executive officer.
She is a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). She is also an associate member of the Chartered Institute of Stock Brokers, an Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, and a member of the Information Systems Audit and Control.

9) Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe

Born on July 28, 1964, Nneka Onyeali-Ikpe is the Managing Director/Chief Executive, Fidelity Bank Plc since December 2020. She is the first female to ascend to the position since the establishment of the institution. Onyeali-Ikpe has a law degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and a master’s degree in Law from King’s College London. She started her career in the banking industry as a legal officer for the now-defunct African Continental Bank in 1990.
She subsequently worked as a treasury officer for the First African Trust Bank, and later joined Zenith Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, respectively.
In 2011, she joined Enterprise Bank as an executive director of the bank’s operations in Lagos and other locations in the South-western region in Nigeria.
Onyeali-Ikpe joined Fidelity Bank as an executive director in January, 2015.

10) Toyin Sanni

Toyin Sanni is the Chief Executive Officer of Emerging Africa Group, one of the leading African investment groups facilitating inward investments for African and global investors, as well as outward investments by Africans. A multiple award-winning investment banker/stockbroker, Sanni is an African investment banker, lawyer, chartered secretary, stockbroker, and author. In June 2018, she resigned from United Capital where she was Group CEO for over four years and became the Chief Executive of Emerging Africa Capital in July 2018. She attended Queen’s School, Ibadan, and received a law degree from the University of Ife in 1984 at the age of 18 after which she bagged a BL from the Nigerian Law School, Lagos. She later attended the University of Lagos where she got her master’s degree.
Sanni attended Harvard Business School Executive Education, Lagos Business School, Pan-Atlantic University CEO Programme and IESE Business School Chief Executive Programme.
She was the founder in 2016 and chairperson of Women in Financeng (WIFng), a not-for-profit organisation focused on advocacy for Nigerian women in the finance sector.

11) Owen Omogiafo

Owen Omogiafo is a Nigerian business executive and strategist. She is the President/Group Chief Executive, Transnational Corporation of Nigeria (Transcorp), a diversified conglomerate with strategic investments in the power, hospitality and oil and gas sectors. She attended the University of Benin, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree (double honours) in Sociology and Anthropology, and holds a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science and is an alumna of the Lagos Business School and IESE Business School, Spain.
She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, UK and a Certified Change Manager with the Prosci Institute, USA. She is a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD) Nigeria. Owen started her career in stockbroking and later moved to banking where she held various roles, spanning operations, service quality management and relationship management. Prior to joining UBA, she worked with Accenture where she covered various projects and clients in the private and public sectors and diverse industries. As a staff of Heirs Holdings, Owen served in various capacities, including as the Director of Resources, responsible for establishing structures for optimal man and machine engagement and deployment within Heirs Holdings Group. She equally served as the Chief Operating Officer at the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), where, working with the CEO and the board, she oversaw the $100 million Programme aimed at identifying, mentoring, and funding 10,000 entrepreneurs over 10 years.

12) Amy Jadesinmi

Amy Jadesinmi is a Nigerian businesswoman and Chief Executive Officer, Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics Base (LADOL), a privately-owned logistics and engineering facility in the Port of Lagos. She was educated at Benenden School in the United Kingdom, then at the University of Oxford, where she graduated BA in Physiological Sciences and BMBCh in medicine in 1999. Later, she gained an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. After medical school, she was recruited by Goldman Sachs. Jadesimi started work in the Investment Banking division of the firm, based in their offices in London, focusing on mergers, acquisitions and corporate finance. She worked there for three years. Even though Jadesimi is better known as a businesswoman, she never intended to leave the medical field and pursue another career.
Beyond LADOL, she is on the Prince’s Trust International global advisory board, a founding commissioner of the Business and Sustainable Development and Commission and a Forbes contributor.

13) Audrey Joe-Ezigbo

Mrs. Audrey Joe-Ezigbo, co-founder and Deputy Managing Director of Falcon Corporation Limited (FCL) knew early in her teenage years that her future lay in entrepreneurship. She was 13 years old when she watched the movie “A Woman of Substance” based on a novel by Barbara Taylor-Bradford. The movie made such an impression on her that from that age she made “a decision that I would not work for anyone but would rather build a business that would one day grow into a multinational conglomerate.”
This impression became a reality in 1994 when she co-founded the FCL with her husband, Prof. Joseph Chukwurah Ezigbo.
Today, she sits on the advisory board of the Lagos Business School, Pan Atlantic University (PAU). She is also a member of the advisory board of the Enterprise Development Center (EDC), also of PAU. She also sits on the executive council of Women in Management, Business & Public Service (WIMBIZ). She is a member of the Institute of Directors (IoD).
She holds several Masters’ degrees in Finance, Marketing and Business Administration from the Lagos Business School, University of Nigeria, and Nnamdi Azikiwe University. She also holds several executive certifications in Management, Leadership and Governance from Harvard Business School, IE Business School, IESE Business School and the WIMBOARD Institute.
She is the immediate past President (2018-2021) of the Nigerian Gas Association, the umbrella association and voice for businesses and professionals involved in the Nigerian gas industry. She is the first woman to have occupied the position of NGA President in the Association’s 22-year history.

14) Funke Opeke

Funke Opeke is a Nigerian electrical engineer and founder of Main Street Technologies and Chief Executive Officer of Main One Cable Company, a communications services company based in Lagos State.  Opeke obtained a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Obafemi Awolowo University and Columbia University, USA, respectively. Her career in ICT started in the United States as an executive director with the wholesale division of Verizon Communications in New York City until she joined MTN Nigeria in 2005 as Chief Technical Officer (CTO).
The vision to launch MainOne Cable in 2008 was inspired by the poor internet connectivity in Nigeria. MainOne is West Africa’s leading communication services and network solutions provider. The company has built West Africa’s first privately owned open access 7,000-kilometer undersea high capacity cable submarine that stretched from Portugal to West Africa with landings along the route in Accra (Ghana), Dakar (Senegal) in 2019, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire) in 2019 and Lagos (Nigeria).
In 2015, her company started operations of what is reputed to be Nigeria’s largest Tier III Data Center, also extending a submarine cable from Lagos into Cameroon.
MainOne strong CSR is focused on education and is aimed at improving the learning environment by refurbishing the classrooms, providing new desks and chairs for the students, repainting the school’s external and internal façade, roofing and restructuring the entire blocks of classrooms.

15) Tosin Adefeeko

Tosin Adefeeko is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of AT3 Resources Limited, a specialised communications and events consultancy outfit that is focused on providing public relations, events and media services to corporates, individuals and brands.

Before the AT3 Resources, Tosin has had a stint in banking, oil industry, journalism and public relations. Although her parents were bankers, Tosin did not find fulfillment in the banking industry.

“I hopped from bank to bank in the hope of finding ‘Uhuru’ and it just never happened. But I like to tell people that I learnt a lot from banking, my resilience and staying power, the ability to negotiate dispassionately, to serve, to initiate, build and sustain relationships; my business acumen, most of it I learnt from banking,” she said during a recent interview.
Tosin followed her passion and wanted to become a journalist with the AIT having studied English and Literary Studies and wrote her university project on Advertising.
She later earned a Master’s Degree in Marketing Communications and returned to the banking hall “just to stay afloat financially.”  It was there that she met the Publisher of THISDAY, Prince Nduka Obaigbena, one of her major clients at the GTB branch where she headed commercial banking. Obaigbena talked her into journalism to work for Arise Magazine as business manager after she left banking. She later moved to NN24, a television channel.
Tosin in her professional career has led brand building initiatives for Coca-Cola, P & G, Etisalat, Google, Microsoft, Sanofi, GSK, Skye bank, British Airways, Ford, Facebook, influential personalities and many brands too numerous to mention.

16) Yanmo Omorogbe

Yanmo Omorogbe is the Co-founder of Bamboo, a fintech company. Omorogbe believes that wealth creation, through investing in stock markets, is possible to people anywhere in the world. This informed the launch of the Bamboo, an app that was introduced in 2019, to enable Nigerian investors buy shares of publicly traded companies in America.
A graduate of the Imperial College of London where she studied Chemical Engineering, Omorogbe’s mission is focused on giving Nigerians an opportunity to grow and earn returns on their investments.
She co-founded Bamboo, with Richmond Bassey, a digital investment platform that has given Nigerians real-time access to buy, hold, or sell stocks of about 3,000 companies listed on the United States stock market right from their mobile phones and computers.

17) Tiwa Savage

Her name is Tiwatope Omolara Savage, but she is professionally known as Tiwa Savage. She is a Nigerian singer, songwriter, and actress dubbed the Queen of Afrobeats. Born in Isale Eko on February 5, 1980, she relocated to London at the age of 11 for her secondary education. Savage graduated with a degree in accounting from the University of Kent, and started working at The Royal Bank of Scotland. She later graduated from Berklee College of Music and signed a publishing deal with Sony/ATV Music Publishing in 2009.
But her passion for the growth of her native country’s music industry brought her back to Nigeria where she signed with Mavin Records in 2012.
Savage won Best African Act at the 2018 MTV Europe Music Awards, becoming the first woman to win the category. In May 2019, she announced her record deal with Universal Music Group and exit from Mavin Records.
Her second extended play, titled ‘Water & Garri,’ was released on August 20, 2021. In July 2022, she received an honorary degree from the University of Kent during a graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral.
In celebration of the 52nd anniversary of Nigeria’s independence, Savage performed her rendition of “Arise, O Compatriots” for Ndani Sessions.
Savage named one of her albums “Once Upon a Time” to motivate other upcoming artists by telling them that once upon a time, she was a little girl in Isale Eko who dreamt of being a star.
Savage has been involved in many youth empowerment and breast cancer screening projects across Nigeria. She helped raise money for an organisation that builds schools in her hometown.

18) Ayra Starr

She began a fashion career at the age of 16 with Quovo Model Management before deciding to pursue a career in music. Little wonder her signature style, shorts, crop tops define her and screams ‘skimpy’ at every outing. Since breaking into the mainstream in 2019, Ayra Starr, born Sarah Aderibigbe, has become one of the female stars whose music is adding excitement and promoting Afrobeats to a global audience. The singer has enjoyed a hugely successful year with her hit singles ‘Rush’ and ‘Sability’ obtaining commercial success. Remarkably, on March 4, 2023, Starr took to social media to announce that her music was used as soundtrack for blockbuster American action movie, Creed III. Her music has made her a household name around the world, winning her listeners and several awards. With her recent Grammys nomination in the category for Best African Song Performance, 2024 promises the Sabi Girl something worthy as she continues to climb the rung of success.

19) Tems

In the past year, singer/songwriter Temilade Opeyemi, better known as Tems, entered a fashion era like no other. After her collaboration with Wizkid on Essence, Tems style evolved as she gained international fame, performing at various shows. Her viral Oscar moment is still talked about at any given instance. Scoring features in Dazed, Elle, amongst others, Tems has had quite an impact as a fashion girl in music entertainment. The ‘Crazy Things’ crooner recently hosted a successful wardrobe sale, where she offered fans and fashion enthusiasts a chance to pick from her closet, the second time, making it an annual feature in the fashion calendar. The Grammy award winning artiste was named as one of the people “who have achieved peak influence in their fields” in the 2023 TIMES’s Next 100 list. Tems is one of the most exciting artistes to come out of Nigeria in recent years, and she predictably will continue to rise in the years to come, with a Grammy nod already for her in 2024.

 20) Mo Abudu

The CEO of Ebony Life Group, Mo Abudu, embarked on a new phase of her career in the film industry as one of her cherished dreams came true with two short films – Her Perfect Life and Iyawo Mi (My Wife) which she directed. These two films have already graced prestigious Oscar-themed film festivals, including the Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival, the Rhode Island Film Festival, and HollyShorts Film Festival. This endeavor marked a profound personal and professional milestone in her multifaceted career. She solidified her place among the global elite as Forbes announced her among the esteemed ‘World’s 100 Most Powerful’ list in the outgoing year. Her remarkable work in the media space has earned her widespread recognition. She has constantly challenged norms and pushed boundaries in the entertainment industry, creating and producing films that resonate both locally and internationally. As she continues to redefine the narrative of African storytelling, it is expected that her impact would be felt in 2024.

21) Bolanle Austen-Peters

As a lawyer, multiple award-winning movie director/producer, theatre director/producer and cultural entrepreneur, Bolanle Austen-Peters (BAP) has remarkably etched her name in the arts and culture landscape.  She is the founder and artistic director of BAP Productions and the arts and culture centre Terra Kulture. Described by CNN as the woman pioneering theatre in Nigeria, named as one of the most influential women in Africa by Forbes Afrique, she has also been recognised with several awards for her contribution to the arts. Since her award-winning movie ‘Bling Lagosian’ was launched at the box office in 2019, observers have kept watch on her. Her biopic title, Funmilayo Ramsome Kuti was at the cinema for just one week in September of 2023, as part of the requirements to be fulfilled for being shortlisted for Oscars. In an exclusive chat, Austen-Peters admits that she would love to come back to the box office when she gets the muscle to push such an adventure. With a couple of projects at hand (both stage and screen), her latest being ‘Wire Wire’, which is projected for a 2024 release, marks her comeback to the box office four years after hiatus from the big screen.

22) Toyin Abraham

Actress and filmmaker, Toyin Abraham is among the top Nollywood players, with the positive results she has recorded in the last couple of years, filming and featuring in blockbuster movies like ‘Gang of Lagos’, which is one of the outstanding films of the year. Toyin Abraham started 2023 on a bright and busy note. Her movie ‘Ijakumo’ which arrived in cinemas late last year (2022) achieved success on popular streaming platform, Netflix. Adored by her numerous fans, the actress has had a busy year. There’s a perception in the movie industry that Toyin Abraham and her colleague, Funke Akindele are competing with each other, releasing films almost at the same time. Though the filmmaker has denied it, there appears to be some truth in it with her latest movie released shortly before Akindele’s ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ a couple of weeks ago. Without regard to the critical acclaim awarded her last movie ‘Ijakumo’, her latest film project, ‘Malaika’, premiered this December, has drawn rave reviews from fans and critics which would extend in the coming year, determining its success at the cinemas.

23) Funke Akindele

Nollywood luminary, Funke Akindele has over time proven her craft behind and before the camera. She has some of the highest grossing movies produced in the last three years. Though her movie ‘Battle on Buka Street’ was released in December 2022, the multiple award-winning actress/producer has reaped the success and accolades this year. The mother of two also made the news a couple of weeks back by releasing her mini-series ‘She Must Be Obeyed’ on Amazon Prime Video. Following months of anticipation, Funke Akindele’s latest movie titled ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ premiered amid fanfare in Lagos on Sunday, December 10, 2023.  This latest movie has recorded another round of favourable results and amassed a whopping N400 million within its initial 12 days of screening. This achievement has propelled the new movie to claim the top spot on the highest-grossing movie of 2023, and most likely would dominate the box office in 2024 going by her pedigree of making blockbuster films.

24) Asisat Oshoala

Agba Baller, as she is fondly nicknamed by her teeming fans and admirers, Asisat Oshoala has become a force to reckon with in the world of female football. The Super Falcons Striker has continued to reign as the Queen of African football with her recent award as the best female player in the continent at the CAF event a few weeks ago in Morocco. The triumph is Oshoala’s sixth time winning the award, pulling clear as the footballer with the most wins. Adjudged as the best African female player in 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019 and 2022, it wouldn’t be a surprise she clinches the illustrious African Women’s Best Player in 2024 going by her performance this year and current form. That will mark a record-extending seventh time for the Barcelona star.

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