By Eric Elezuo
If you were in Ijebu Igbo, Ogun State on September 13, 2005 when a carnival-like ceremony was held to commemorate the burial rites of the matriarch of Adenuga family, you will actually understand what a true son is. The personalities that graced the occasion, the general funfare, the ambience of the environment and not forgetting the exquisite entertainment, make anyone wish to have a son like Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr.
Mike Adenuga, as he is fondly called, was born on April 29, 1953 to a school teacher father, Oloye Michael Agbolade Adenuga Sr, and a businesswoman mother of royal Ijebu descent, Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga (née Onashile).
Not many will believe that the huge man of means was a taxi driver in far away United States of America; a project he undertook to assist in funding his university education. He did, in exemplary show of humility. This was after gloriously received his secondary school education at the Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan, and at Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro, where he bagged a Higher School Certificate (HSC). He has degrees in Business Administration from the Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Pace University, New York.
To say Mike Adenuga is first class business tycoon is obviously an understatement; he is the second richest person in Nigeria, as well as the second richest person in Africa, whose net worth Forbes has estimated at $10 billion as of 2016. His company Globacom is Nigeria’s second-largest telecom operator, and also has a presence in Ghana and Benin. He also owns stakes in former Equitorial Trust Bank and the oil exploration firm Conoil (formerly Consolidated Oil Company). This is a man who started business as a teenage with a little change handed over to him by his mother. Little wonder, he gave her an out of this world befitting burial when she died in 2005.
Adenuga began his sojourn into the real business world when in 1990, he received a drilling license. This he maximized, and in 1991, his Consolidated Oil struck oil in the shallow waters of Southwestern Ondo State. He therefore, became the first indigenous oil company to do so in commercial quantity.
In 1999, Adenuga expanded, and diversified into telecommunication. In the same year, he was issued a conditional GSM licence, which however, was revoked. Undaunted, he pushed more steadfastly, and in 2003, he received a second one when the government held another auction. And that marked the birth of Globacom, which spread fast, challenging existing giant multi-national companies. The company launched services in Benin in 2008, and has continued its spread across Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, with more licences currently being prospected in other West African countries. The outfit is the initiator of the per second billing which telecom users are today enjoying.
He didn’t stop there as his network also pioneered such revolutionary products as Blackberry, vehicle tracking, mobile internet and mobile banking services in Nigeria. He actually used his business for the benefit of the Nigerian masses, cutting to size the exploitation tendencies of the foreign telecom networks.
Adenuga’s expanding achievements recorded the laying of an international submarine cable, Glo 1, which has gigantic capacity to Africa directly to Europe and America. The optic fibre cable provides excess bandwidth to all the cities connected to the cable, and has lead to a much faster and robust connectivity for voice, data and video.
His enterprising attribute did not go unnoticed as he was named African Entrepreneur of The Year at the maiden African Telecoms Awards (ATA) on August 15, 2007.
After a brush with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in 2009, he relocated to London until the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua recalled him. In May 2015, Adenuga made a takeover bid to purchase Ivorian mobile telecom’s operator Comium Côte d’Ivoire for $600 million.
He is a force to reckon with in the business of oil and gas, banking and the telecoms industries in the country. Consequently, he has merited many special awards due to the great sacrifice he made to ensure the re-invention of the country’s telecoms industry.
Adenuga has molded his companies into major, if not dominant, players. In the oil and gas sector, Conoil Plc is one of the largest and most profitable oil marketing companies in Nigeria. Conoil Producing, the downstream arm of the conglomerate, made history by becoming the first Nigerian company to strike oil and produce it in commercial quantity in 1991. In banking, Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) was one of the few banks that effortlessly met the N25 billion capital requirement during the 2005 banking consolidation exercise without going to the stock market. It only merged with Devcom Bank which was also owned by Adenuga, and later merged with Sterling Bank.
He was honoured by the Federal Republic of Nigeria with the National Awards of the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) and later with the award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON). During Nigeria’s 50th anniversary celebration, Adenuga was one of the 50 pre-eminent Nigerians who were conferred with the Special Golden Jubilee Independence Anniversary Awards by the Federal Government of Nigeria.
Adenuga has been known to spread his wealth, and this has kept him in the news. Globacom is the biggest supporter of football in Africa and has raised the profile of football in Nigeria and Ghana with the sponsorship of the Premier Leagues and national football teams of the two countries. The company spent over N6 billion on Nigerian football, and has also transformed the annual Confederation of African Football Awards and made it the most glamorous sports event on the continent.
In reward, CAF awarded him, the Pillar of Football in Africa. At the second edition of the Glo-CAF Awards held in Ghana, former President John Kufour declared him Africa’s No.1 Businessman for his promotion of the continent through his business empire.
Dr Adenuga has won numerous awards in recognition of his personal and business accomplishments among which is the African Telecoms Entrepreneur of the year for his courageous and rapid investment in the telecoms sector. In 2010, he was voted Nigeria’s Most Outstanding Business Personality in the last 50 years, beating strong contenders like the Chairman, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Founder of Diamond Bank, Mr. Pascal Dozie, late Olorogun Michael Ibru and the Chairman, First City Monument Bank, Otunba Subomi Balogun.
In 2009, Dr. Adenuga won the coveted Silverbird Man of the Year Award. The annual award is facilitated by Silverbird Communications, owners of Silverbird TV and Rhythm FM. Similarly, several other media organisations have also honoured the Globacom Chairman with their Man of the Year Award within the last few years. He is also known as a personality whose presence you cannot leave without a smile as a result of his excessive generousity.
You deserve our Boss of the Week award. Congratulations sir!