The Nigeria Star campaign highlights outstanding Nigerians whose work positively impacts their communities and supports nation-building. The Nigerian Stars are citizens of Nigeria who have dedicated themselves to projects that promote peace, unity, development, and the growth of their fellow countrymen and mankind in general. We recognize the work of these outstanding individuals and acknowledge their efforts.
Runcie Chidebe - February 2020
Through his nonprofit, Project PINK BLUE, #NigerianStar, Runcie Chidebe is changing the narrative about cancer in Nigeria. By engaging government, nonprofit, and private sector partners, he provides advance support to cancer patients. He is the recipient of the 2020 Global Ties U.S. International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumni Award for Social Innovation and Change. A health advocate, civil society activist, and a leading voice in making cancer control a national health priority in Nigeria. His many accomplishments include launching training for oncology care, volunteer mentorships, establishing breast cancer support groups, and advocating for improved cancer care and mandatory health insurance.
Olusola Owonikoko - January 2020
Olusola Owonikoko is a social activist working to improve the lives of under-privileged and vulnerable populations, particularly people living with disabilities. His efforts to use technology to aid the disabled won the 2018 Google Impact Challenge. Olusola is a 2014 alumnus of the U. S. Consulate’s Carrington Youth Fellowship, a 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow and a 2016 Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur. Working with a variety of private, public, and development organizations, he is committed to designing and implementing programs targeted at improving the outcomes for marginalized communities, including women, girls, and youths, throughout Africa. Well Done!
Simi Nwogugu - Nigerian Star, December 2019
Simi Nwogugu is the executive director of Junior Achievement Nigeria (JAN), a member of Junior Achievement Worldwide. Nwogugu started her career as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs after studying economics and English at Mount Holyoke College. She brought Junior Achievement to Nigeria in 1999, after she served as a volunteer in New York and realized that entrepreneurial training programs were exactly what the large unemployed youth population in Nigeria needed. After setting up and running JAN for three years, she left the organization to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School. After a decade of entrepreneurship, Nwogugu returned to her role as executive director of JAN in 2016, to help the organization expand its economic empowerment programs to help young people in the North, especially those displaced by the Boko Haram crisis. To date, Junior Achievement Nigeria has improved the lives of over 900,000 young Nigerians throughout all parts of the country, empowering them and preparing them for economic success and social responsibility.
Oluwatosin Olowoyeye-Taiwo is an advocate for educating out of school children. She is the recipient of the U.S. Consul General’s outstanding fellow award for 2012 and a 2014 alumna of the U.S. government-sponsored International Visitors Leadership Program (IVLP). Ms. Oluwatosin is passionate about ensuring that no child is left behind, and for that reason, she founded the Street to School Initiative, an organization that runs a free primary school for street kids and school dropouts, where more than 200 pupils acquire formal education. Through her annual BagSwap and Back2School project, she has donated educational items to 12,500 public school pupils from extremely low-income families. Beyond her work in education, she also works to help the poor receive quality health care. Through her efforts, two primary health care centers in Lagos state have been renovated and equipped with medical supplies to provide much-needed health care for vulnerable children from underserved communities.
Abisoye Ajayi-Akinfolarin is a social impact entrepreneur at Pearls Africa, an NGO focused on promoting the cause and advancement of girls and women through coding. She is also an alumna of the U.S. government’s International Visitor Leadership Program on “Education and Activism for Young Women” as well as a 2018 CNN Heroes honoree. Ms. Abisoye has over 12 years of experience in information technology solutions development. She assists girls in developing tech skills through multiple programs including GirlsCoding, GirlsInSTEM, and Empowered Hands, through which she has trained over 400 young girls and women how to code. She recently launched the Lady Labs Innovation Hub to cater to the tech needs of girls from underserved communities and to provide them an avenue where they receive professional mentoring in technology and business.
Olakunle Joel Adewale
Olakunle Joel Adewale (2015 Washington Fellow – Civic Leadership) or Kunle is a graduate of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife with a specialization in painting and art history. He is the CEO of Tender Arts Nigeria, a not-for-profit social enterprise that assists children and youth with art therapy and education, talent development, community development while fostering increased civic engagement. Kunle is an international advocate for persons living with Sickle Cell Disorder.
Khalifa Dankadai is a young advocate of educational reform for Almajiri children in Kano state. He founded the KDC Foundation in 2014, which provides feed-and-read programs for this underserved population. He works with religious and traditional leaders to integrate mainstream education into Quranic schools by setting up community learning centers in both rural and urban areas. KDC’s work has received support from the National Social Investment Program with the provision of N-power beneficiaries for this teaching initiative.
Ali Nuhu often referred to as the “King of Kannywood” (Sarki Ali), is a veteran actor of the Hausa film industry. Ali has directed numerous movies in addition to producing others through his company- FKD Productions. Ali serves as a recruiter and mentor for many artists in the film industry while bridging the gap between Kannywood and Nollywood. He also works with Kannywood directors and producers to improve the quality of Hausa movies and most recently has sought to infuse messaging on topical social issues through storytelling (film). Ali has won many awards both local and international.
Nachamada Geoffrey is leading the fight to preserve Nigeria’s largest elephant herd in the Yankari Game Reserve in Bauchi State. He trains the reserve’s rangers and engages community leaders around the reserve to raise awareness. Under his leadership, Yankari is far better preserved with no elephants having been poached since 2015.
Sipasi O. Ayodele
Sipasi O. Ayodele is a Nigerian with a passion for agriculture. A 2019 Mandela Washington Fellow and 2017 Carrington Fellow, Sipasi is the founder/CEO of ProtectOzone, an NGO dedicated to alleviating extreme poverty and hunger while improving the livelihoods of Nigerians. ProtectOzone has distributed over 25,500 tree-seeds, fruit and vegetable seeds, established demo farms and trained over 4,000 children, youths, women and farmers in sustainable agricultural practices.
Fatima Akilu – A psychologist with over 20 years of experience in the field of mental health and an advocate for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE). She served as the director for Behavioural Analysis and Strategic Communication at the Office of the National Security Adviser helping to establish the government’s P/CVE action plan. Dr. Fatima is currently the executive director of the Neem Foundation, a non-profit, peace-building and conflict prevention organization founded as a direct response to the problem of insecurity in Nigeria. Dr. Akilu continues to work actively in northeast Nigeria with victims of violence to offer counseling, trauma healing, and psychosocial support.
Otto Orondaam is a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow and founder, a leading volunteer-driven developmental organization that provides education and health support for thousands of underserved children in slums and remote communities. Mr. Otto is a community organizer and a development consultant, passionate about social reforms, nation-building, and community development. In his quest to curb the alarming numbers of out-of-school children in the slums and on the streets across Nigeria, he worked with over 8200 volunteers across 31 countries to provide educational scholarships and other support to over 40,000 children from 25 communities in Nigeria, built various early childhood development centers, an e-library, a health center and technology labs that presently serves thousands of children.
Muhammad Nuruddeen Lemu
Muhammad Nuruddeen Lemu is the Director of Research and Training at the Islamic Education Trust, in Minna, Nigeria. He is also a Director of the Development Initiative of West Africa (DIWA) and a co-founder of the Inter-Faith Activity and Partnership for Peace (IFAPP). Nurudeen is a renowned young scholar who has contributed immensely to peacebuilding, countering violent extremism and interfaith collaborations between Muslims, Christians and other religious groups in Nigeria.
Omowale Ogunrinde is an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) Alumna and the founder of Field of Skills and Dreams (FSD), a vocational, technical and entrepreneurship training academy. Mrs. Ogunrinde has a passion for helping young Nigerians develop the vocational, technical and entrepreneurial skills to enable them to set up small sustainable businesses and reduce unemployment among the nation’s youth. FSD’s graduates have created over 10,000 jobs as a result of training programs in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Enugu, Calabar, Kuje, Ibadan, Ijebu Ode, Kaduna, Mokwa and Uyo.
Kola Aina: CEO and Co-Founder of Ventures Platform Hub, a tech incubator that has invested in over 30 innovative companies including Paystack, Tizeti, MDaaS, Printivo, and Thrive Agric. Their investments have empowered Nigerian youth entrepreneurs through venture capital while contributing to Nigeria’s development, a win-win solution to illegal migration and brain drain.
Amal Hassan is a visionary and accomplished IT entrepreneur. She is the owner of Outsource Global, a privately-held ICT company and consultancy headquartered in Abuja, Nigeria, with a core focus on global knowledge and business process outsourcing. Amal has grown her business to over 750 employees and continues to enjoy sustained growth.
Dr. Sani Aliyu
Dr. Sani Aliyu led the Nigeria HIV/AIDS Indicator and Impact Survey (NAIIS) – the largest HIV-specific survey in history. Under his leadership as Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS, the survey was completed in a record 9 months and is pivotal in efforts to halt the epidemic.
Bukky Shonibare: A humanitarian and advocate for the girl-child, Bukky is a strategic team member of the #BringBackOurGirls movement, advocating the rescue of the abducted Chibok girls. Bukky also manages ‘The Light Foundation’, through which she coordinates ‘Adopt-A-Camp’, an initiative designed to complement ongoing efforts in assisting internally displaced persons.
An African businesswoman who trains, mentors, and supports Nigerians – especially women – to create clean energy solutions to electricity problems in their communities. A 2015 Mandela Washington Fellow, she was one of 15 African businesswomen who met Advisor to the U.S. President, Ms Ivanka Trump at the launch of the U.S. Government OPIC’s 2X Africa Initiative to support investment in women in Africa.
84 year-old Imam Abdullahi Abubakar, a peace-builder, whom together with his deputy saved over 300 lives of his Christian Neighbors on June 23, 2018, by putting faith into action, at Nghar Village, Barkin Ladi LGA, Plateau State.