It’s the third edition of my ‘Most Fascinating’ list of Nigerians and we can all agree that no year in recent history has been as intriguing as 2016.
Way too many people and events threw up drama this year and as a result, this has easily been the toughest list for me to compile since I started doing this in 2014. Davido topped my first list then while Diezani Allison-Madueke was number one in 2015. Who will make the list and top it this year? Well, here goes…
He has been in the Nigerian music industry for a few years now but 2016 turned out to be the year of Tekno. From throwing up hits back to back to back to back, he ended up giving Nigerians what could easily be described as the song of the year. Nigerians (and many around the world) regardless of age, cannot afford to sit still whenever ‘Pana’ comes on.
He also ramped up his persona with his weird Instagram posts ranting about any and everything including posting and deleting eggplant pictures. Everyone at some point, talked about Tekno this year.
- CHIERIKA UKOGU
Nigeria at the Summer Olympics this year, was a shambles, except for the bright spot of the football bronze medal and a certain medical student who represented Nigeria in the rowing event for the first time and went all the way to the final.
Chierika Ukogu did all that almost with no government funding. She qualified on her own, bought her rowing equipment on her own and thanks to a ‘Go Fund Me’ page, she was able to raise funds to get to Rio. Getting to the final was a big shock, as everyone from Mr. President and the international media sat up and took note. Hopefully, Dr. Ukogu will get closer to a medal in Tokyo 2020.
Folarin ‘Falz The Bahd Guy’ Falana did everything in 2016. He rapped, he sang, he hosted, he acted, he did stand-up, sitcoms, took over social media and even became a choreographer with the sort of performances he has started pulling off on stage. With numerous awards to boot as a result, not many could ignore him in 2016. It’s bad enough to be a double or triple threat in entertainment. But being like a quintuple threat is unusual and with how young he is, the future looks scary for his competitors. He can only get better.
- HON. ABDULMUMIN JIBRIN
Something unusual happened this year at the National Assembly. A very high-ranking member of the green chamber, decided to speak up against alleged corruption and the revelations were shocking. The honorable member, who was the Chairman of the Appropriation Committee, exposed what he said was a budget scandal involving the speaker and many other high-ranking members.
His daring move, earned him a suspension from the house. And while even faced with complete rejection from his colleagues, he continued to fight on. Nigerians saw damning documents for the first time and many believe our budgeting process may never be the same again as a result. Neither will the word ‘padding’.
It’s very rare to have an artiste dominate the news almost throughout a whole year without releasing a body of work. But Wizkid did that in 2016. He made his first moves into the international market by featuring in what was the song of the summer with Drake. He then became the first Nigerian act to top the Billboard charts with ‘One Dance’. Then he got involved with Justine Sky and it was a big deal. Then came the Grammy nomination, which was an even bigger deal. With ‘Artiste of the Year’ awards across the continent this year, it’s almost scary to think how big his 2017 will be when he adds an album to all of this.
- TIWA SAVAGE
Tiwa has been Africa’s leading female artiste for years now even if many will say she may be losing that to Yemi Alade these days. But she only just got back fully into the game after becoming a mother and dropping her album late last year. With a few hit singles and features, she cemented all of that with being signed on to Jay Z’s record label. But she’s not on this list for her music. Her interview with Azuka Ogujiuba, discussing her marital issues, stunned everyone.
She revealed some of the most shocking details about her marriage and the reactions till date are still unbelievable. Her interview is the second most watched video on YouTube this year by Nigerians. Much more than many music videos released. That’s how big of a deal it was.
- GOVERNOR AYO FAYOSE
I don’t think the Ekiti State governor needs any introduction. Neither do we need to be reminded of all the things he’s done this year to make him easily the most talked about elected official in the country. He has challenged everyone possible, from the president and his wife to even his own party members. At a time when the PDP seemed to have forgotten their opposition duties, Gov. Fayose provided enough of an alternative. Doesn’t matter that his methods have been unconventional. At least everyone paid attention.
Snapchat became huge in Nigeria in 2016 and by the second half of this year, a new star was born and he sure has been a sensation. Bobrisky took to snapchat as his way of expressing himself and gradually every Nigerian on social media tuned in at some point. He gave us makeup tutorials, showed us how to dance, challenged ladies to a contest on who could keep a man, showed off gifts from his “bae”, advertised his bleaching cream and told anyone who cared to listen, how rich he was.
It was nothing like Nigerians had seen before and as much as many loathed him, many couldn’t stop watching. Then he started going mainstream with media interviews and press rounds, appearing on stage at concerts and even being on music videos. Many are still not sure what to make of the Bobrisky phenomenon but one thing is for sure, we all were fascinated by him in 2016 and he may just have opened the doors to Nigerians openly discussing things considered a taboo in these parts.
- SOLOMON DALUNG
Nigerians love their sports. Actually scratch that. Nigerians love their football. And honestly, nothing brings us together better than when our teams play. So anyone who tries to ruin that is automatically considered enemy number 1. Interestingly, the one person who almost consistently worked against sports in 2016 was the Minister of Sports.
He made some of the most ridiculous statements almost from the start to the end of 2016 that people only wondered what he was then doing when the cameras were off. Almost no press statement came from him without a blunder, capped at the end of the year by him saying that government couldn’t pay the Super Falcons their winning bonus because he didn’t expect them to win. It’s probably most fascinating that he kept his job till the end of 2016.
- AISHA BUHARI
Something happened this year that has never happened in Nigeria before and probably never happened in many countries around the world. The president’s wife granted an interview on BBC and spoke up against her husband. She didn’t like his style of government and his appointees. She went on to say that she wouldn’t campaign for her husband in 2019 if he didn’t fix up. WHOA!!! It prompted the president to let us know that there was “the other room” in his house and the President’s wife never retracted her statements. Going on instead to keep us talking on many other occasions with her dazzling designer accessories and children’s weddings. Opposition parties have called on her to join them and probably run against her husband. Who knows what 2017 will bring. Going by what she pulled of this year, I can’t wait.