TIME has released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world for the year 2020 which features four Nigerians.
Appearing on the list is an honour, as entrants are recognized for their contribution to the world. “While you will certainly find people who wield traditional power on this year’s list—heads of state, CEOs, major entertainers—it also includes many extraordinary, lesser-known individuals who seized the moment to save lives, build a movement, lift the spirit, repair the world”, TIME said on how it chose individuals that made this year’s list.
Listed below are four Nigerians who made the 2020 TIME100 list:
Giannis Antetokounmpo is a Greek professional basketball player for the Milwaukee Bucks of the National Basketball Association (NBA). Antetokounmpo, whose surname is a Greek script rendition for “Adetokunbo” was in Greece to Nigerian parents in 1994. Antetokounmpo is a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player and was named the NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2020.
For the TIME100 list, Antetokounmpo’s entry was penned by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a six-time NBA champion and league Most Valuable Player.
“Every generation finds an athlete who embodies the qualities we all wish we had: dedication, focus, exceptional athleticism and grace under pressure… Giannis Antetokounmpo, who just won a second straight NBA MVP award, has all that and more”, Abdul-Jabbar wrote.
Antetokounmpo is often recognized as one of the best all-around players in the NBA, he is highly athletic and versatile.
Abdul-Jabbar continued: “I have no doubt that Giannis will extend the NBA records he holds—he already has the highest single-season Player Efficiency Rating, which combines all of a player’s stats, in NBA history—possibly beyond the reach of future generations.”
“But a sports hero is more than records. Giannis sets an example by standing up for what he believes in,” Abdul-Jabbar added. Earlier this year, Antetokounmpo and his team protested the police shooting of Jacob Blake in their home state by refusing to play.
Tomi Adeyemi is a Bestselling Nigerian-American novelist and creative writing coach. She is best known for her #1 NY Times bestselling book “Children of Blood and Bone”. The novel won the 2018 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy, the 2019 Waterstones Book Prize, and the 2019 Hugo Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book. In 2019, Adeyemi was named to Forbe’s 30 Under 30 list.
For the TIME100 list, Adeyemi’s entry was written by British-Nigerian actor and producer John Boyega.
“Tomi is the god of ideas,” Boyega wrote.
“She’s inspiring a lot of young people to write. She creates the very world that we as actors get to play in. And the big-screen adaptation will hire a lot of people and bring more representation to our industry—all that comes directly from Tomi’s imagination. She is going to be very powerful when it comes to bringing stories and ideas to the forefront.”
And about Adeyemi’s book, Boyega wrote: “When someone told me about Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone, describing it as a cross between Harry Potter, the Chronicles of Narnia and Yoruba gods, I was shocked. It sounded like the best combination ever: How had I not heard of it? I read it, then I read it again, then I listened to the audiobook. I was being introduced to a world I couldn’t have imagined before. The characters were larger than life but with very human problems and issues. And the novel spoke to my self-identity and culture as a Nigerian, in its social commentary and in its depiction of both magic and oppression.”
Tony Elumelu is an economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
For the TIME100 list, Elumelu’s entry was written by Aliko Dangote, a businessman and Africa’s richest person.
“A mere handshake says a lot about Tony Elumelu. His gritty grip underlines his charming, tenacious personality: a man who hardly backs down from any challenge. The same engaging qualities have propelled him from a modest beginning in Nigeria to becoming chair of the United Bank of Africa, and one of the most innovative and ambitious business leaders of his generation,” Dangote wrote.
Following his retirement from United Bank for Africa in July 2010, Elumelu founded The Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organisation that awards grants and intensive support to young entrepreneurs per year across 54 countries in Africa.
Dangote added: “After deepening the financial market in Africa, he has found an equally important niche: giving a voice of hope to millions of youths across Africa… Having come so far, Tony still forges on, striking a fine balance between personal satisfaction and societal impact.”
Dr. Funsho, is a cardiologist and the chair of Rotary International’s polioeradication program in Nigeria.
For the TIME100 list, Funsho’s entry was written by Jeffrey Kluger, an editor at TIME.
Funsho and Rotary played a critical role in getting millions of doses of the polio vaccine to children in cities and villages around the nation. On 25 August, marking four years without a case of wild polio, Nigeria was certified wild polio-free.
“It’s not often an entire continent eradicates a disease, but on Aug. 25, 2020, that happened when Nigeria was declared polio-free, clearing the virus from its last redoubt in all of Africa. The person who did more than any other to drive polio to continent-wide extinction was Dr. Tunji Funsho”, Kluger wrote.