From Aliko Dangote to Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigerians have made their mark on the global scene and have left a long-lasting impression on the society which has been impacted by either their successes or their policies.
It’s a noble cause US Time magazine has taken up, to celebrate people like this every year and acknowledge the big influence they wield in our world as a result of what they have done.
The Time 100 is the magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world, and the issue features tributes written by high-profile guest contributors.
The list of 100 is categorised into 5; some of these influential people are regarded by Time as Titans. Other categories include: pioneers, artists, leaders and icons.
The beauty of the list is the fact that it stuck by its theme; ‘the most influential people’, which means it doesn’t matter what they do, but the influence they wield.
A well deserved recognition for Nigerian billionaire, Aliko Dangote, who was tagged in the magazine as ‘Africa’s richest man who does good in addition to doing well’.
Who better to write a tribute for Dangote than founder of Microsoft who has now thrown himself fully into philanthropy, Bill Gates.
Here’s what Gate wrote about Dangote:
“A year ago, I gave a speech in London about the fight to eradicate polio. It included a section on Nigeria, one of just three countries where the virus still circulates. The organizers told me Aliko Dangote had been invited. I thought, I’d like to see him, but he’d end polio faster by staying in Nigeria and doing the work he does every day. Fortunately, Aliko thought the same thing. He skipped my speech, and the children of Nigeria are better off for it.
“Aliko is Africa’s richest man, and his business activities drive economic growth across the continent. That’s impressive, but I know him best as a leader constantly in search of ways to bridge the gap between private business and public health. It’s for that reason he helped create the Nigeria Private Sector Health Alliance. And it’s for that reason he is an advocate for agricultural research and malaria control.
“All of this is in addition to Aliko’s leadership on polio and other diseases. The last time I was in Nigeria, we met with dozens of people, from government leaders to front-line health workers. After I left, Aliko followed up with them to make sure they were doing the work they said they would do. This year, Nigeria is on pace for its lowest number of polio cases ever. Aliko is a big reason why,” said Gates.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala also deservedly sits among 99 other influential people in the world, with a tribute by Bono, lead singer of U2. Tagged as the guardian of Nigeria’s public funds, Iweala saw Nigeria become the largest economy in Africa following years of hardwork as Nigeria’s Finance minister.
According to Bono, who first met economist Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala when she was campaigning for Nigerian debt relief; “We’d been fighting our way through capitals around the world trying to get Cold War–era debts canceled for the poorest, most heavily indebted countries. During her first term as Finance Minister of Nigeria, Ngozi arrived at her desk to find a weighty $30 billion owed.
“With oil prices on the rise, she stopped having to plead with her creditors and bought a massive chunk of her own debt so she could cancel it herself. As if to make a point. She became a legend in that moment.
“Humor and joy spill out of her, which can belie the fact that she’s got one of the toughest jobs on the planet — how to ensure that the tens of billions of dollars earned each year in oil receipts go into productive usage, like agriculture, infrastructure, health and education. Ngozi has made corruption her enemy and stability her goal. She is fiercely intelligent; everyone wants her to work with them. I couldn’t be prouder to work for her,” said Bono.
Other Africans who made the list include: Kenya’s Ory Okolloh, ex-policy director for Google and South Africam Public advocate, Thuli Mandosela.
Beyonce graces the cover of this year’s edition of the magazine and her name appears first on the list of the titans, but the magazine claimed the 100 names in the list were not arranged based on the influence they wield when quizzed by CNN on the criteria for choosing Bey as the most influential person in the world.
The magazine is expected to hit the shelves on Friday.