Elumelu, three other Nigerians makes ‘Time 100’ most influential people list


TIME has named Tony Elumelu, one of Africa’s leading investors and philanthropists, Giannis Antetokounmpo a Greek professional basketball player, Tomi Adeyemi, Bestselling Nigerian-American novelist and creative writing coach and Tunji Funsho, a cardiologist and the chair of Rotary International’s polio eradication program in the 2020 TIME100, the annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.

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.

The list, now in its seventeenth year, recognizes the activism, innovation, and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals.

Elumelu, is recognized for his track record of business turnaround and value creation, and economic empowerment of young Africans.

Tony Elumelu is the Founder and Chairman of Heirs Holdings, his family owned investment company, committed to improving lives and transforming Africa, through long-term investments in strategic sectors of the African economy, including financial services, hospitality, power, energy and healthcare.

He is chairman of top pan-African financial services group, the United Bank for Africa (UBA), which operates in 20 countries in Africa, the United Kingdom, France, and is the only African bank with a commercial deposit taking licence in the United States.

The bank provides corporate, commercial, SME and consumer banking services to more than 21 million customers globally.

Elumelu also chairs Nigeria’s largest quoted conglomerate, Transcorp whose subsidiaries include Transcorp Power, one of the leading generators of electricity in Nigeria and Transcorp Hotels Plc, Nigeria’s foremost hospitality brand.

Elumelu is the most prominent champion of entrepreneurship in Africa.

In 2010, he created The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), the philanthropy empowering a new generation of African entrepreneurs, catalyzing economic growth, driving poverty eradication and ensuring job creation across all 54 African countries.

Since inception, the Foundation has funded just under 10,000 entrepreneurs and created a digital ecosystem of over one million as part of its ten year, US$100m commitment through the TEF Entrepreneurship Programme.

Self-funded, the Foundation is increasingly sharing its unique ability to identify, train, mentor and fund young entrepreneurs across Africa, with institutions such as the UNDP, the ICRC and leading European development agencies.

Giannis Antetokounmpo

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

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.”

Tunji Funsho

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.