Top 25 International Nigerian Newsmakers of 2021

A New Year was recently ushered in on Saturday, January 1, but it is not without a memorable chapter that 2021 left with us.

It becomes imperative to recognise Nigerians who were the top newsmakers of 2021 – especially in and outside the shores of Nigeria. These are the men and women who made international news, earning significant coverage in digital and/or print media outside the shores of Nigeria.

The list comprises 11 entertainers, six sportsmen, some writers, a social activist, a business guru, and the president of Nigeria.

In curating the list, we focused solely on international newsmakers, and not on people who made waves only in Nigeria. The list is presented in no particular order. Go ahead and dig in.

1. Wizkid

Grammy award-winning singer and songwriter

Wizkid was in the news in and outside the shores of Nigeria. His achievements in the world of music, music business, and merchandising got the world’s attention all through 2021.

2. Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Director General, World Trade Organization.

Before her emergence as the Director General of the World Trade Organisation, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was a regular newsmaker. Her emergence as the DG of WTO further made her a one to look forward to reading about anywhere outside the shores of Nigeria.

3. Davido

Singer, songwriter, and music producer.

Davido is synonymous with news, hence, it’s not surprising that this 29-year-old caught the world’s attention with his achievements in the world of music, music business and merchandising.

4. Burna Boy

Grammy award-winning musician.

Burna Boy first made global headlines after emerging as a winner of the prestigious Grammy awards in the early days of 2021. He toured the world and met with global music practitioners to further cement his status as the self-styled African Giant.

5. Anthony Joshua 

Former heavyweight boxing champion of the world

Anthony Joshua was in the news for all the right reasons across the world as he prepared for his 2021 fight against Oleksandr Usyk. Though he lost the fight, he has remained a constant newsmaker as he prepared to regain his titles.

6. Tiwa Savage 

Singer and songwriter

Tiwa Savage was in the news for several reasons in 2021 and the world couldn’t stop at anything to hear her sound when her duet with American singer, Brandy berthed. She is one of the 25 Nigerian newsmakers.

7. Tani Adewunmi 

Chess Champion

A young Tani Adewunmi caught the world attention when he emerged a world-class Chess champion. Tani’s grass to grace story left the world standing and yet again, another Nigerian put the country on the world map for all the right reasons.

8. Tems 

Singer and Grammy award nominee

From just the girl next door in 2018 to one of the currently sought-after music act from Nigeria. Her collaboration with Wizkid for his hit song, Essence, has continued to draw the right attention to the young Tems, who was featured in several international media for her musical prowess.

9. Victor Osimhen 

Professional footballer

It is believed that Victor Osimhen has replicated what many had thought only South Americans achieve in the world of football. Osimhen has continued to wow his employers in Europe and made Nigeria proud for his prowess at the game of football.

10 Yvonne Orji 

Actress, author, and comedian

Yvonne Orji also made headlines as an actress, author and comedienne. She is best known for her role in the television series Insecure, for which she has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award and three NAACP Image Awards.

11. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Award-winning writer

Since her breakout, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has continued to put Nigeria on the global map. Every year, she continues to wow the world with her immense brilliance and 2021 was not left out.

12. Aisha Yesufu 

Social activist and businesswoman

Aisha Yesufu was in the news in 2021 just as she had always been since she emerged as the convener of the Bring Back Out Girls campaign. In 2021, she also wow the world when she opened up on how she wooed her husband and asked him to marry her.

13. Kamaru Usman

Mixed martial artist, and current UFC welterweight champion

Kamaru Usman continues to wow Nigerians home and abroad with his impressive stamina and abilities in the world of martial art. He has continued to win more titles and 2021, he won all his bouts and was in the news.

14. Israel Adesanya 

Mixed martial artist, and current UFC middleweight champion.

Like Kamaru Usman is Israel Adesanya, who has continued to, not only identify with his roots, but also continued to put the country on the world map for all the right reasons. He has also continued to win his fights and 2021 was an exceptional year for him.

15. Kelechi Iheanacho

Professional footballer

Kelechi Iheanacho proved his abilities to shine like a bright star as he not only won English FA Cup winner for Leicester in 2021, but also became the fourth Nigerian to win monthly prize after scoring five times in March 2021. He was also named the EA sports player of the month.

16. Muhammadu Buhari 

President of Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari was in the news for several reasons all through 2021 and the world was stunned and couldn’t stop talking about the retired General when he was featured on the TIME magazine cover alongside some other world leaders.

17. Oby Ezekwesili 

Activist, humanitarian and former minister

In 2021, Oby Ezekwesili continued her quest to speak out against bad governance in Nigeria. The world was greeted with good news when Ezekwesili joined Nexford’s Board of Directors towards the end of 2021.

18. Wole Soyinka

Nobel laureate prize-winning writer

The internationally respected writer from Abeokuta, Ogun state, Nigeria was one of the 25 Nigerians that made news on local and international scenes. After 48 years, Pantheon Books published a new novel by the African writer, and political activist on September 28, 2021. Soyinka was in the news all over the world for the feat.

19. Aliko Dangote


Aliko Dangote remained in the news for all the right reasons even after losing heavily in the early part of 2021. He maintained his spot as the richest African in Africa with his net worth valued at $2.3 billion in 2021. His investments in fertilizer and cement boosted his wealth and his decision to go into oil is projected to skyrocket his wealth.

20. Dr. Jeffrey Obomeghie 

Hotelier, hospitality guru

Dr. Jeffrey Obomeghie is the president of the International Hospitality Institute, educator, and writer. In 2021, he received the Industry Choice Award from Otolo, a London-based organization serving the global hospitality community, in recognition of works. In the same vein, Obomeghie put Nigeria on the global map with his strides in the hospitality industry, having been inducted as a member of the Hoteliers’ Guild, an exclusive ‘invitation-only’ society of the world’s leading hoteliers based in Lugano, Ticino, Switzerland.

21. Funke Akindele

Actress and movie producer

While Funke Akindele-Bello’s ‘Jenifa Diary’ series keeps growing in leaps and bounds, the release of ‘Omo Ghetto: The Saga’ in 2020, saw her grabbing headlines across the world in 2021. The film emerged as the highest-grossing film in the box office between 2020 and 2021. Ending its cinema run at ₦636.1 million before moving to Netflix as a top choice, The film brought honour to Akindele-Bello when it landed an international award. The film scooped Africa’s highest-grossing film of 2020/21 award at the META Cinema Conference in the United Arab Emirates.

22. Fireboy DML


Fireboy DML’s continued success made 2021 a good year for him. 2021 was a good year for the 25-year-old, who got an international distribution deal with Empire Distribution with just two albums. 2022 is poised to be a more rewarding and better year for Fireboy, whose debut single from his forthcoming third album, Peru, is not only smashing records but raking in incredible streams. He ended the year with a remake of ‘Peru’ featuring British singer, Ed Sheeran. 2022 looks good for him.

23. Chiney Ogwumike

American professional basketball player and ESPN radio host

In 2021, Chiney Ogwuike expanded her television talent. After becoming one of the youngest commentators to be named a full-time NBA analyst for ESPN, the Los Angeles Sparks forward joined ESPN’s newest show, NBA Today.

24. Uzo Aduba 

Emmy award-winning actress

It was a big year for Uzo Aduba, who won several awards, grabbed international headlines for her role in HBO’s series and even got married. She was named one of the popular celebrity couple of 2021.

25. Mosunmola Abudu

Founder, EbonyLife

57-year-old media mogul, Mo Abudu is the brain behind EbonyLife studios and TV. She sealed a lot of big deals that will take her time in the world of content production for television and streaming platforms globally. In 2021, she was named one of the world’s 100 Most Powerful Women alongside US Vice-President Kamala Harris, Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna, Beyoncé Knowles, Ava DuVernay, Serena Williams.

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