Hafsat Abiola-Costello

“Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contribute the best that they have and all that they are.”

-- Halfsat Abiola

Hafsat Abiola-Costello serves as a member of the Ogun State cabinet. As the Special Adviser on MDGs in 2011 – 2015, she pioneered the use of mobile phones to deliver cash grants to poor pregnant women to ensure their access to health centers for antenatal to post natal care.

As the current Special Adviser on Trade and Investment for a state that is the industrial hub of Nigeria she is working with partners like the German Agency for International Cooperation on programs that offer a viable pathway to sustainable development for the state. She serves as a councillor of the World Future Council, a global entity that identifies, analyses and spreads policies that contribute to sustainable development.

Motivated by women’s strength, she believes that challenges facing Africa offer opportunities for women’s leadership to emerge. Through her non-profit organization, the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), she is working to promote a groundswell of exemplary women leaders and build pathways to public service for them. Her organization offers leadership training to thousands of youths across Nigeria; supports women’s organizations working to rebuild their communities after violent conflict in places where Boko Haram is most active; promotes the use of theatre to raise awareness about and reduce societal tolerance for violence against women and girls; and prepares women to run for office, with a focus on local government councils.

Hafsat’s commitment to fostering democracy and development in Africa is a tribute to her parents, who lost their lives in the course of their efforts to restore democracy during a time of military rule in Nigeria. To honor their legacy, she now works with others to weave a new reality where Africa and its peoples help shape a just, humanitarian and sustainable globalization.

She graduated from Harvard University with an A.B. in Development Economics (honors) and from Tsinghua University with a Master of International Development degree. In recognition of her work to promote democracy in Nigeria, she was awarded with an honorary doctorate degree from Haverford College. She is married with two children.