Movers and Shakers: Nigeria’s 20 Political Icons of 2023

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In an important general election year in which the sitting president was not seeking reelection, while many political actors were taking the backstage stage, several others came to the forefront. The intricate fabric of Nigerian politics remains a dynamic arena, pulsating with the energies of diverse political actors, each weaving their narrative into the fabric of the nation’s story. As we walk through the story of the influential figures who’ve shaped Nigeria’s political landscape in 2023, their actions and impact ripple across the nation, leaving a historical mark on the collective consciousness.


In this exclusive exploration, we unveil the profiles of twenty formidable leaders, each wielding influence, crafting visions, and igniting aspirations that resonate across the diverse expanse of Nigerian politics. These individuals, through their convictions and actions, are steering the course of the nation, imprinting their footprints on the dynamic terrain of Nigerian politics.



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 in his political career endeared many to him, giving him a victory at the general elections in February.


Peter Obi


Peter Obi was the presidential candidate of the Labour Party( LP) in the 2023 general elections, where he came in third.


He is unarguably one of the most 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.


Atiku Abubakar


The presidential flag bearer of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP in the February 2023 election is sure to be a political leader worthy of note in the country.

With support from across the divide, Atiku Abubakar’s influence came into play during the election, which saw him emerge second behind President Bola Tinubu.




Muhammadu Buhari


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 Kwankwaso


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.


Goodluck Jonathan


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.


Olusegun Obasanjo


Also a former president, his political relevance remains intact years after leaving office. As an elder statesman and one who cannot be easily swayed, Obasanjo took his stand on matters of interest in 2023 and had a lot of people align 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.



Kashim Shettima


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


Nyesom Wike currently serves as the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. One thing that keeps him going on 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.


Femi Gbajabiamila


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 the 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.


Godswill Akpabio


Presently serving as Nigeria’s Senate President, Akpabio has a huge wealth of experience and has also displayed an unwavering commitment to repositioning Nigeria for good.


His influence in the political scene began in 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.


Babajide Sanwo-Olu


The indefatigable governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwoolu also has a spot on the list of influential political leaders in 2023.


In 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 El-Rufai


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.


Babagana Zulum


The professor and politician is the governor of Borno State, serving his second term after being 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.



Abdullahi Ganduje


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


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 others.


Aisha Dahiru


Aisha Dahiru, popularly known as Binani, is a member of the All Progressive Congress and the 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 a stint in 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.



Seyi Makinde


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 ruling party, the All ProgressiveCongress, in the presidential elections even against his party.


His calculative moves put him into prominence, earning him a spot among the 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


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 that influence over the years to garner support for his political ambitions.


Peering through the lens of the present, the crystal ball of Nigerian politics seems to shimmer with anticipation, hinting at an array of possibilities for the years ahead. The year 2024 looms on the horizon, poised to be a crucible of transformative shifts and pivotal moments.


As Nigeria gears up for the 2024 political landscape, the emerging scenarios weave a narrative that promises a melange of challenges and opportunities. The forthcoming general elections in 2027 cast a long shadow, invoking visions of recalibrated alliances, renewed aspirations, and resurgent political manoeuvres.


In the embrace of this transformative era, the narratives of these influential leaders will continue to intertwine, shaping the fabric of Nigerian politics. Their footprints, etched in the chronicles of 2023, stand testament to their influence, and their roles as architects of Nigeria’s political destiny seem poised to chart new courses, ushering the nation into a horizon brimming with aspirations and ambitions.


As African Leadership Magazine navigates the nuanced contours of Nigeria’s political landscape, the unfolding chapters promise an exhilarating narrative, resonating with the dynamism and vigour intrinsic to the pulsating heart of Nigerian politics.

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