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Posted by By Patrick Asonye, Christian Ita, Segun Ajiboye, Kayode Fayemi, Tony Ogaga Erhariefe, Dare Odufowokan, MIKE JIMOH and TOSIN AJIRIRE on 2005/12/26 | Views: 3147 |

People to watch


Will he run or will he not run? This is one question Nigerians would be expecting an answer from the President in the coming year. Whatever decision he takes would undoubtedly determine the nation’s political direction.

President Olusegun Obasanjo
Will he run or will he not run? This is one question Nigerians would be expecting an answer from the President in the coming year. Whatever decision he takes would undoubtedly determine the nation’s political direction.

His pursuit of the anti-corruption crusade of his administration would also help define the year. Should he pursue it with the same zest and zeal as he did this year, then more high profile public officers may be awaiting their turn for jail.

There is also his face-off with Vice President Atiku Abubakar. With the election year approaching, the two are headed for a dogfight that would impact on the polity one way or the other.
The economic reforms of his administration is expected to come full circle just as he is expected to be preoccupied with the amendment of the country’s constitution. What amendments he would make would be pivotal to the nation’s health.

Atiku Abubakar
Vice President Atiku Abubakar is currently engaged in the political battle of his life with loyalists of President Olusegun Obasanjo who are determined to see him out of office. Some of the President’s men have even vowed that his days in office are numbered.
So far, Atiku, whose ambition is to become president in 2007, has been completely eliminated from the race for the PDP presidential ticket.
Though he is believed to be the big masquerade behind the Movement for the Defence of Democracy (MDD) and Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD), he has been reticent about his political future.
In 2006, is he likely to cave in to pressures and resign from office or would he continue to hang on?


Audu Ogbeh
The former National Chairman of the PDP is the arrowhead of the MDD and MRD, two groups that are vehemently opposed to President Obasanjo’s perceived third term ambition.
Apart from forestalling the alleged third term ambition of Mr. President, the other objective of the groups is to return power to the North.
With the recent decision by political leaders from the South opposing the return of the presidency to the North, how Ogbeh and his groups would achieve their objective remains to be seen.

Ahmadu Ali
As the National Chairman of the ruling PDP, Senator Ahmadu Ali would play a key role in either the president’s alleged third term aspiration or in selecting Obasanjo’s successor as the party’s flag bearer in the presidential race in 2007.

Also, he and his party have to contend with the contention between the North and South over which geo-political zone should produce the president even as northern politicians have been kicking that the office had been zoned to them by the party in 2002.


Maurice Iwu, INEC chairman
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) could make or mar the ambition of groups such as the MDD and MRD to become political parties.
The electoral body will also kick-start preparations for the 2007 general elections.


NCP
With the recent revelation that even the pre-independence population head count was rigged in favour of a particular zone, the National Population Commission (NCP) would be on the spotlight as it conducts yet another head count in 2006.
It would in the process face the clamour for the inclusion of such index as tribe and religion.
The outcome of the census may lead to a paradigm shift in the country.


Orji Kalu
The Abia State governor is so far the only serving governor to have declared a presidential ambition and has been touring the length and breadth of the country in that regard.
Despite the clamour by the North to have the presidency, Kalu has been enjoying tremendous support from that zone as well as the rest of the country.
So far, he is his own man. But will he continue to be in 2006?


Governor Bola Tinubu
Asiwaju Bola Tinubu of Lagos State is the "last man standing" as far as the Alliance for Democracy (AD) is concerned. He has successfully repelled attempts by the PDP to ‘capture’ the state.
A strident critic of the Federal Government, Tinubu however, seems to have achieved a new level of understanding with President Obasanjo leading to the FG’s approval of the Lagos master plan and the ordering of FERMA to hands off traffic control in the state.


Muhammadu Buhari
Since losing the 2003 presidential elections, General Muhammadu Buhari has been the rallying point of sort for the opposition.
Couple of weeks ago, he met with the northern caucus in the National Assembly. He implored the lawmakers to reject any moves at amending the constitution to elongate Obasanjo’s tenure.
With the rumour of Obasanjo’s third term ambition likely to reach a crescendo in 2006, Buhari’s resolve would be tested.


National Assembly
The National Assembly will come under close watch as it settles down to amending some provisions of the 1999 Constitution, including the controversial three term tenure of office it has recommended for the president and governors. Even though the recommendations if passed, cannot have retroactive effect, critics see it as a prelude to making way for Obasanjo to stay on in office beyond 2007.


Ibrahim Mantu
The deputy senate president was during the recently held northern senators forum in Kaduna pelted by a mob because of his perceived role in the alleged third term agenda of the president.
He heads the all-important committee in the National Assembly saddled with the task of recommending amendments to the constitution.
Meanwhile, he faces an acid test from his home state of Plateau following moves to have him recalled from the senate.


Donald Duke
Cross River State Governor, Donald Duke, is undoubtedly one of those that would chart a new direction for the country in the coming year, specifically on the economic front.
With his ambitious Tinapa Resort Project, the youthful governor leaves no one in doubt that he is set to transform the face of Tourism in Nigeria, and by extension, earn foreign exchange for both the state and the country.

Of course, the involvement of retail banks, with the nod of the apex bank, is a testament that the N25.7billion project, even at its early stage, promises to place the state conspicuously on the world map.
Needless to say that the horizon is already looking bright for the unemployed youths as they’d be readily absorbed both directly by the project and the spin off jobs in a multiplier sequence.
In preparation therefore, the government has started investing heavily in a robust urban infrastructure upgrade programme to handle the projected tourists’ demands.

Engr. Akin Arumemi-Johnson
This is one man whose contribution, professionally speaking, is expected to make the difference in the country’s knock-kneed energy sector. Already, the engineer has, literally, started breathing life into the sector with the Omoku Power Plant, described as the first of its kind in this part of the continent, a wholly indigenous initiative that would inject about 400mega watts of electricity into the national grid.
Billed for commissioning early in 2006, President Olusegun Obasanjo is said to be so thrilled by the project located in Rivers State, that he supported a raise in its output to 400, from the original 250mega-watt design.

When fully on stream, the Arumemi-Johnson power concept initiated by the administration of Governor Peter Odili of Rivers State, industrialists believe, would boost the capacity of the Power Holdings Company of Nigeria (PHCN) and hopefully rescue industries that had since collapsed on account of unstable electricity supply.


Joseph Odumodu
He is a pharmacist of note. He also presides over May & Baker, a pharmaceutical company that has been a major player in the health care industry.

But beyond his company’s status of the past years, Odumodu has positioned May & Baker to play a more pivotal role in health care delivery in the coming years. Recently, he led the company to acquire the Federal Government Vaccine Laboratory in Yaba, Lagos.

For a start, May & Baker would be producing Yellow fever vaccines. In the course of time, it would add more essential vaccines such as polio, BCG etc, to its line of production.
Now a private sector-driven enterprise, the lab, healthcare practitioners say, stands in the stead to fill the long years of void hitherto created by bureaucratic lethargy.


Virgin Nigeria
Needless to say that it is now the preferred airline on the domestic routes in Nigeria. And with a cocktail of air disasters, some outright crashes and others near mishaps in the last couple of months, air travelers are beginning to pick and choose.

The October 22 crash of Bellview plane that killed 117 persons and the Sosoliso’s of December 10 in which 107 died have scared the hell out of air travelers. Coupled with the clamp-down on some indigenous airlines by the Federal Government over issues of airworthiness, Virgin Air seems now to enjoy an unprecedented patronage, as if its planes are insured by divine powers.
Indeed, the direction that the Nigerian aviation compass would point next year may largely be determined by the presence of Virgin in the Nigerian sky.


Prof. Babalola Borisade
Professor Babalola Borisade seems to have controversy trailing him wherever he goes. In the education sector, where he was minister in Obasanjo’s first term, universities were shut for one whole academic year because of his failure to deal fairly with the trade unions.

Rejected by the Senate on his return mission to the cabinet, the man was somehow "wangled" back into
reckoning. Sadly, since his assumption of duty as Minister of Aviation, the sector has not been the same. It has witnessed more mishaps than is available to recent memory. It’s been so bad that calls for his removal or resignation have been most strident.

But the man has rather shifted the blame on the hapless officers that head the agencies of the ministry. He believes they should be held responsible for the strings of disasters lately. That is why he has sacked a number of them.Just how effective his new palliative would be, remains to be seen.
In other words, Borisade holds the key to the safety of the Nigerian flying public. Would he deliver? The coming year offers the opportunity.


Jimoh Ibrahim
Moving along into the new year with the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) privatisation trends is Jimoh Ibrahim, the 38 year old CEO of Global Fleet Oil & Gas who recently added government owned NICON Insurance to his burgeoning business empire in a N6.2billion move that caught most of his competitors napping.

Before then, the upwardly mobile lawyer had added V.G.C Communications, Meidan Hotel and the Government Guesthouse at Bar Beach, Ahmadu Bello Way, and Victoria Island to his acquisition-shopping list. With this trend of acquisitions and his established profile as a high flyer in the corporate world, Jimoh Ibrahim is definitely one of the stars to watch out for in 2006.


Jim Ovia
Another personality to watch out for in the coming year in the corporate scene is the Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Jim Ovia who recently bagged the maiden Pearl Award as the most outstanding CEO of the year.
The award is one of the numerous recognition of Ovia’s exemplary leadership skill as a banker and super corporate player, which has translated into monumental success for Zenith Bank Plc, a leading banking institution in Nigeria.

With a Masters degree from the University of Louisiana, an Executive Management Programme Certificate of the Harvard Business School in U.S.A, and over 30 years experience in the banking industry, Ovia, who succeeded in positioning Zenith Bank as the third most profitable bank in Nigeria and the only Nigerian bank to be rated triple A for six consecutive years, will surely be among those who will pull a lot of new tricks in the corporate world come 2006.


Funmilayo Babington-Ashaye
For Funmilayo Babington-Ashaye, the new Managing Director of Cornerstone Insurance Plc, 2006 is the year to consolidate the sparkling performance of a company that is today the undisputed leader in the insurance sector.

And with the promised consolidation exercise to be carried out in the sector next year, this insurance amazon sure has a role to play on the corporate scene in the coming year.
Cornerstone gave the market an inkling of its intentions when in 1992, just one year after commencement of operations, it posted a Gross Written Premium of over N36 Million. Today, the company's Gross Written Premium is in excess of N700 million.


Tony Elumelu
One of the rare gems in the banking industry to watch is Tony Elumelu, managing director of the new United Bank of Africa (UBA). By his career history and achievements, the young and visionary Elumelu has continued to make a bold statement that the future of the country is truly in the hands of young men and women who have focus and are ready to work hard. This much he would still want to prove come 2006.

Also Capital Leisure and Hospitality Limited, a subsidiary of Transnational Corporation Limited (Transcorp), recently took over the ownership of NICON Hilton hotel and renamed it Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, with Tony Elumelu, emerging as Chairman, Board of Directors.
His appetite for achieving goals saw him transforming the defunct Standard Trust Bank (STB) into a robust organisation that is today part of the mega UBA. Indeed, he has brought a great deal of innovation to service delivery in the banking sector.


Ndi Okereke Onyiuke
Her contributions to the growth and development of the Nigerian Stock Exchange cannot be rivaled even as she has succeeded in bridging the gap that hitherto existed between the corporate world and government.

Today, prominent players in the corporate world are familiar faces in Aso Rock.
Not too long ago, she facilitated the establishment of a mega corporation, the Transnational Corporation (Transcorp) by top Nigerian businessmen.
Her role in the on-going consolidation exercise in the banking sector is immense.


Jubril Adewale Tinubu
Wale Tinubu is the Chief Executive Officer of Oando Plc. He assumed this position in January 2005 after the consolidation of all Oando’s affiliate and subsidiary companies into an integrated energy group known as the Oando Group.

Prior, Wale was MD/CEO of Oando Plc, a position he assumed in July 2001 after serving as the Executive Director, Finance and Administration of the company.
With the recent listing of Oando Plc on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in South Africa, Wale has sent out a signal that he is one of the players to watch out for on the corporate scene in 2006.


Mike Adenuga
Easily one of the most accomplished members of his generation, Otunba Mike Adenuga has the uncanny ability to juggle different balls at the same time and getting desired results.
His entry into the telecommunication sector with Globacom brought desired changes to GSM operations in Nigeria. His company introduced the per seconds billing which the likes of MTN had built a myth around. Today, Globacom offers subscribers on its network, access to the Internet.
In the oil sector, his firm, Conoil has the biggest production quota for any indigenous firm.


Zinox Computers
This is a wholly indigenous Information Technology (IT) company that pioneered computer manufacturing in Nigeria. Personified by its Chairman, Mr. Leo Stan Ekeh, aka Mr. Desktop of yore, Zinox has engaged yet another gear in Ekeh’s dream project of "computerizing Nigeria."
Four years ago, public sector offices had the phobia for the wonder machine.
It took Ekeh’s personal push to taw the ice. The result, pleasantly, is the warm reception accorded personal computers in the public sector.

Today, the company has a manufacturing base in Lagos, but it plans to replicate the facility in Abuja in the coming year.
Indeed in the coming year, Zinox and Ekeh have a part to play in the attainment of the laudable Millennium Development Goal.


Mikel Obi
19 year old Mikel Obi is easily one of the most promising footballers Nigeria has ever produced and this is evident in the tussle between two English premiership giants, Arsenal and Chelsea football clubs, over the signing of the football prodigy.
The best of the sensational teenager awarded the silver boot at the last Under 21 Youth Championship in the Netherlands is yet to come, as many people believe he will blossom into full flight professional footballer next year.

That is as soon as he gets behind him the protracted battle for his services by the English football clubsPencilled down by the Augustine Eguavoen led Super Eagles for next year’s 25th African Nations Cup taking place in Egypt, January, Mikel just might use the stage to announce his arrival as one of the best midfielders the world has ever seen.


Nations Cup 2006
Under pressure to toe the line of Fifa’s International calendar, Africa had little option but to stage a joint qualifying series for the Nations cup and the World Cup Finals for the first time ever.
With the Super Eagles still ruing its ouster from the World Cup Finals in Germany, all hopes are now resting on the Super Eagles to deliver its third Nations Cup victory to erase the disappointment of the World Cup miss.


School of Football Excellence
This is a Kwara State collaborative initiative with Kojo Williams. It has been receiving a lot of applause for its potentials. The new academy is targeting skillful, young footballers that will make Nigeria proud in later years. Under the direction of former Super Eagles technical adviser, Clemens Westerhof, the School is however not all about football alone as students are also encouraged to develop on their educational capabilities.


Austin Okocha
Easily one of the most skillful midfielders Nigeria has ever produced, the mesmeric "Jay Jay" Okocha is however at the twilight of his illustrious professional career. And how best to bow out in style and applause than to put up a superlative performance at the 2006 Nations Cup in Egypt in January?

To say that the once shinning star of English Bolton football club has been going through a harrowing time would have been an understatement.
In an injury blighted season, not to talk of losing his captainship to a much younger footballer, Okocha badly needs the opportunity the Nations Cup affords to prove himself one last time before taking a well deserved bow.


Enyimba Football Club
Two-time CAF champions, Enyimba Football Club of Aba as far as African soccer is concerned could be said to have been there; done that. The governor Orji Uzor Kalu financed team did not only win the 2005 premier league diadem, but the FA cup as well.
The Aba millionaires were narrowly beaten in their quest for an unprecedented back-to-back CAF champions league title for the third time.
As the premier league and FA defending champions, all eyes will be on the Aba millionaires to prove once again that their successes were no fluke.


Nduka Irabor
The Hon. Nduka Irabor led Electoral Committee of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) is saddled with the responsibility of conducting and overseeing the December 29 NFA elections. Result of the election will determine the kind of football ruling body the country will be stuck with until the next round of elections.

Most importantly, the new NFA board will go far in determining the success or failure of the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the coming 2006 African Cup of Nations in Egypt, January.

Amaka Igwe
Amaka Igwe, without doubt, is one of the foremost movie directors in Nigeria today. She remains one of the few contemporary filmmakers who have had their films on celluloid. Amaka's celluloid film, entitled A Barber's wisdom, is a film, which forms part of M-Net's new direction on films project with Nigerian producers.

Amaka Igwe’s films have drawn international recognition to the home video industry. She is producer of the award-winning movie, Forever. Her highly successful soap, Checkmate, till date remains a watershed in the history of soaps in Nigeria.

Popular sit-com, Fuji House of Commotion, which currently runs on several television stations around the country, is another masterpiece from the stable of this indefatigable woman.
A prolific writer and movie director, Amaka Igwe’s newest baby, Best of the Best African Film and Television Programmes (BOBTV), since 2002 has provided a forum for good quality television programmes.


Aki and Pawpaw
The duo of Chinedu Ikedieze and Osita Iheme, two diminutive comedians, have, collectively, changed the face of the Nigerian comedy films.
Better known as Aki and Pawpaw, a name they got from their most successful movie, they have been able to turn what many would regard as disability-their stunted growth-into a money spinning talent.

Between early 2001 when they first appeared on the movie scene, Aki and Pawpaw have between them churned up more than two hundred movies. Today, Chinedu and his friend, Osita, are household names.
Their fame, notwithstanding, the two young men are not unaware of the importance of education. While Chinedu is today a graduate, Osita is seriously in search of admission into a higher institution.


Kennis Music
They came at a time the Nigerian music industry was at its lowest ebb. They sowed the seeds for the industry that is now worth millions of Naira.
That little flame that was ignited when kennis Music launched the De-Remedies (Eddie Montana, Eedris Abdul kareem and Tony Tetuila) debut album, ‘Shakomor,’ in the late 1990’s roared across Africa and indeed the world, when Tuface Idibia, became the first African ever to win MTV Europe Award for

‘Best Male Act, 2005.’
Back in the day when Uncle Keke and D1 (Both Master’s degree holders from American universities) took the leap, music business was a no go near area. It was a business for dropouts. They braved the odds and took the leap and Afro-hip-hop, Nigeria’s version of Hip-hop was born.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.