By Umar Jibrin
President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has remained true to his word. During the campaigns, he promised to give copious representation to youths and women in his cabinet. And this promise, he has kept. With a youth population of over 120 million, and with so many brilliant and skilled young hands, it is, undoubtedly, imperative that young people are the drivers of policy making in Nigeria.
On July 27, President Tinubu sent the names of 28 ministerial nominees to the senate for screening and confirmation. On August 1, he sent additional 19 names. The ministerial list is suffused with women, experts, politicians, and young Nigerians. There is a healthy balance of the seasoned and the new, and of professionals and politicians. The list includes tech experts, economists, lawyers, ex-governors, health specialists, and journalists.
Of interest are some young technocrats to watch out for in the cabinet. They include Hon Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, a UK-trained tech expert and member representing Akoko North-East/Akoko Northwest Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives; Barr Hannatu Musawa, Dr Betta Edu, Dr Bosun Tijani, Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim, Doris Uzoka-Anite, and Joseph Utsev.
President Tinubu has displayed exceptional attunement to the fundamentality of tapping the resource of youth for development by nominating these individuals. But it is important that this resource is adequately channelled and positioned for superlative performance. It is important that the young professionals find fitting roles to apply their expertise.
DR BOSUN TIJANI
Bosun Tijani is a respected personality in the tech community. He is renowned for the innovations he led in the tech ecosystem in Nigeria. He is the CEO of Co-Creation Hub, a leading Pan-African innovation and technology centre. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Jos; an MSc in Information Systems and Management from the Warwick Business School, United Kingdom; and a PhD in innovation and economic development from the School of Business, University of Leicester. But he comes with a baggage. He was a proponent of the EndSARS unrest which led to loss of lives and property across the country, particularly in Lagos state. He had publicly disdained Nigeria, the government, and its institutions – for which he recently apologised during his screening at the senate.
Beyond competence, character, patriotism, and sacrifice are virtues that must remain a factor in the crucible of decision making.
But Tijani remains a profound addition to the team.
Tunji-Ojo is one youth whose wealth of experience and training is critical for the country in this epoch of ICT revolution. Harnessing ICT to stimulate other sectors of the economy; to facilitate growth across value chains and to boost the revenue potential of the federal government is a key ingredient of the Renewed Hope Agenda. Tunji-Ojo’s professional experience cuts across a potpourri of sectors where is ICT virtuosity will be of immense advantage.
He attended the University of North London (now London Metropolitan University) where he studied Electronics and Communication Engineering and graduated in 2005. He obtained a master’s degree in digital communication and networking from the same institution in 2006. He holds certifications in eighteen professional qualifications, including the prestigious title of being one of the first set of certified ethical hackers from Royal Britannia IT Training Academy in the United Kingdom before he turned 24 years.
Before his foray into politics, Tunji-Ojo was said to be an accomplished business and management executive with a flourishing career in ICT. He became the CEO of a leading indigenous ICT consultant company in Nigeria, Matrix IT Solutions Limited, at the age of 24. He holds a certification in Ethical Hacking and Counter Measures. He is also a certified CompTIA Network Plus Engineer and a Britannia Hardware A+ Management Certificate Holder.
He consulted for the World Bank and several government agencies, including Petroleum Technology Development Fund (PTDF), Nigeria Petroleum Investment Services (NAPIMS), Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC), Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA), various committees of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Nigeria Gas Company (NGC), among others.
Consequently, it is important that the expertise of Tunji-Ojo finds release in a role where he can fully unfurl the repository of his potential.
BARR HANNATU MUSAWA
Hannatu Musawa is a lawyer. She earned her law degree from the University of Buckingham, UK, and a master’s degree in the legal aspects of marine affairs from the University of Cardiff, Wales. She also earned a master’s degree in oil and gas law from the University of Aberdeen.
She is a poet, writer, and an art and culture enthusiast as well. Before her nomination as minister, she was the special adviser to the President on Culture and Entertainment. She is one to watch out for in the cabinet.
DR BETTA EDU
Betta Edu is a medical doctor — but with a record-breaking streak. In 2015, she was appointed as special adviser to the governor of Cross River state on community and primary healthcare. She was only 29 at the time.
In 2020, she was appointed chairman of the Cross River State COVID-19 Taskforce. In the same year, she was appointed national chairman of the Nigeria Health Commissioners Forum.
In 2022, Betta Edu was elected national woman leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC). The youngest woman to ever hold the position in the party.
And at 36, she is the youngest minister-designate in this dispensation.
Doris Uzoka-Anite, the minister-designate from Imo state, is a medical doctor who transitioned into banking where she chalked up robust experience in financial markets. She managed the treasury department of Zenith Bank in Nigeria and oversaw the fixed income and currency trading desks, asset and liability management, treasury corporate sales, and financial and multilateral institutions.
Before her nomination, Uzoka-Anite, a CFA charter-holder, was the commissioner of finance in Imo state.
Imaan Sulaiman-Ibrahim is from Nasarawa state. She is a politician and businesswoman – but with a facility for scholarship. Her CV says at 19, she graduated from the University of Abuja with a degree in sociology. And at 21, she received two master’s degrees from Webster University, an MBA and MA.
She was the director-general of the National Agency for the Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons.
JOSEPH TERLUMUN UTSEV
Utsev is the minister-designate from Benue state. He earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the Federal University of Agriculture, Makurdi in 2004. He holds a master’s degree and PhD in water resources and environmental engineering from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
He was the commissioner of water resources and environment in Benue state in 2017. He was appointed as the executive director of engineering at the Lower Benue River Basin Development Authority in Makurdi in 2020 – where he played a leading role in supervising the construction of various engineering projects, such as dams, bridges, roads, boreholes, and drainages.
Before his nomination, he was the rector of the Federal Polytechnic Wannune, Benue state.
A consistent thread among these ministers-designate is the vibrancy and dynamism of youth. They are all either in their 30s or early 40s. These are the young professionals I believe Nigerians should watch out for in the cabinet.
Umar Jibrin writes from Kaduna