The Nigerian political scene has always been a vibrant one with different types of political actors whose actions and inactions keep the terrain active.
The political landscape has powerful political leaders whose contributions cannot go unnoticed in the history of Nigeria due to the influence they have on their supporters as well as on issues that affect the well-being and development of their domains and the nation at large.
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In this write-up, we bring to you 20 of the most influential political leaders in Nigeria as of 2023.
Bola Ahmed Tinubu
He is the president of Nigeria and a prominent leader of the All Progressives Congress(APC) under which he won the 2023 presidential election.
Tinubu dominated the political terrain in 2023 with his now popular Yoruba slogan ” emi lo kan” which translates to ‘It is my turn”. His doggedness amidst the various controversies that surrounded his political ambition and his conviction of his political career endeared many to him giving him a victory at the general elections in February.
Bola Tinubu, the current President of Nigeria, has a diverse career, including his tenure as Governor of Lagos State (1999-2007). His administration has made significant infrastructural improvements, including the construction of roads, bridges, and canals. Tinubu also implemented taxation and revenue generation reforms, leading to increased tax collection and improved financial stability. He also invested in education and healthcare, leading to the construction of new schools and hospitals. His administration has also undergone urban renewal, with initiatives like the Lagos Metropolitan Area Master Plan. Since becoming President in 2023, Tinubu has signed the 2023 Electricity Bill, aimed at de-monopolizing the electricity sector.
Peter Gregory Obi
Peter Obi was the presidential candidate of the Labour Party( LP) in the 2023 general elections where he came in third position.
He is unarguably one of the influential political leaders of the year whose activities and agenda continue to motivate the younger generations in Nigeria to stand up for the cause they believe in to make the country a better place.
His influence as a political leader cuts across religion and tribe as many see him as the face of hope for the nation.
The presidential flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP in the February 2023 election is sure a political leader worthy of note in the country.
With support base from across the divides, Atiku Abubakar’s influence came into play during the election which saw him emerging second behind President Bola Tinubu.
Muhammadu Buhari is Nigeria’s former president and remains one of the most powerful politicians even outside of office.
His subtle way of handling political matters keeps him ahead of others and ranks him as one political leader worthy of having around the corner.
Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso is another powerful political leader in the country with more relevance in the northern part of the country where his followership is often termed cult followership due to their level of loyalty.
As one who has occupied various political offices at different points in time, Kwankwaso brings experience to bear in his political leadership style, an attribute that speaks for him.
Former President Jonathan’s influence as a political leader has continued to appreciate years after leaving office.
The former president who is a member of the PDP has continued to command respect among Nigerians for his style of leadership which recognises integrity and focuses on carrying everyone along.
Also a former president, his political relevance remains intact years after leaving office. As an elder statesman and one who can not be easily swayed, Obasanjo in 2023 took his stand on matters of interest and had a lot of people aligning with his thoughts.
He remains an influential political leader whose line of thinking often goes in opposition to general thinking but carries a lot of weight to influence many others into believing in his ideology.
Shettima who is now the Vice President of Nigeria previously served as a Senator between 2019 and 2023 and was also the governor of Borno State between 2011 and 2019.
Shettima is a man of intellect and this has helped him grow his political career with a meaningful influence on a lot of people who believe in his capabilities.
Nyesom Wike currently serves as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. One thing that keeps him going in the political scene is his outspokenness and fearlessness.
Wike is considered to be one of the most powerful politicians in the country with significant records of progress to show for it.
The Chief of Staff to President Tinubu, Femi Gbajabiamila is a smart politician who once held the position of speaker of the House of Representatives.
Before assuming his latest position, Gbajabiamila represented his people of Surulere federal constituency for decades as a result of the type of intentional politics he plays which carries his followers along in his plan and aligns with their needs.
Presently serving as Nigeria’s Senate President, Akpabio has a huge wealth of experience and has also displayed unwavering commitment to repositioning Nigeria for good.
His influence in the political scene began from his days as governor of Akwa-Ibom state in Southern Nigeria where he governed for eight years and made remarkable progress across various sectors of the economy.
The indefatigable governor of Lagos state, Babajide Sanwoolu also has a spot on the list of influential political leaders in 2023.
By his position as second-term governor in one of Africa’s largest cities, Sanwo-olu exerts power and influence where and when it is needed especially for the development of the state and this has seen his political tentacles grow.
Nasir Ahmad El-Rufai is also among the most powerful politicians in Nigeria; he served as the governor of Kaduna State from 2015 to 2023.
He was also the former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory from 2003 to 2007. El-Rufai is a co-founding member of the ruling party, the All Progressives Congress.
The Professor and Politician is the governor of Borno State serving his second term having been in power since 2019.
Zulum is a people’s politician with so much influence among his people and in extension other Nigerians due to his outstanding performances as governor.
Mostly referred to as Borno State’s chief humanitarian officer, Zulum is popular for being available at all times to monitor and ensure adequate delivery of budgeted projects for the people.
The National Chairman of the ruling APC and two-time governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Ganduje is a heavyweight in politics and can pull a crowd, especially in the north.
Ganduje has served in various capacities and has quite a wealth of experience which bears on his political relations and actions.
Remi Tinubu is the wife of President Bola Tinubu. As a politician of repute, for a long time, she represented her constituents at the senate where she was recognised as the longest-running female senator in Nigeria after an 11-year tenure.
In addition to her political status, Remi in the early part of 2023 garnered more relevance as the wife of a presidential candidate when she traversed across States in Nigeria to campaign for her husband.
Her influence across the country stems from her scope of playing grassroots politics with impactful projects for the people and that has earned her respect and accolades among many.
Aisha Dahiru popularly known as Binani is a member of the All Progressive Congress and gubernatorial candidate of Adamawa state in the March 2023 elections. She served as a Senator representing Adamawa Central between 2018 and 2023 and also had her stint at the House of Representatives.
Binani almost made history as the first female governor of a state in Nigeria during the gubernatorial election in March before a supplementary election overturned that.
He is the governor of Oyo state and a member of the opposition party, the PDP. Though, he has always been an active but not loud politician, 2023 brought out his influential part, especially during the general elections when he wielded his power to work for the opposition party in the presidential elections even against his party.
His calculative moves put him into prominence to earn him a spot among influential political leaders of 2023.
Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed
Though Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed had served as a member of the House of Representatives and had a brief stint at the Senate, he remained in the background of the political terrain until he emerged as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Labour Party along with Peter Obi as Presidential candidate.
Riding on the goals and beliefs of Peter Obi, Datti became more outspoken and soon gained the support of many which made him so influential that his words and actions were reckoned with.
Activities after the 2023 general election further solidified his influence as one who could not be pushed behind and who the people looked up to for instructions.
Ahmed Lawan is a member of the APC, a serving Senator and the former Senate President up until May 2023.
He is a man of influence even among his co-politicians and has used the influence over the years to garner support for his political ambition.