Adenuga: 70 Years of a Bullish Run
By Olusegun Adeniyi
“The man who goes the furthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.” – Dale Carnegie
Whether Dr Mike Adeniyi Adenuga Jnr chose the Bull as his business moniker or the nickname was given to him, there can be no more fitting sobriquet for a man who is never afraid to dare. No matter the odds and regardless of how daunting the challenges may be. It is perhaps also not a coincidence that Taurus, the second astrological sign of the zodiac, governs the period of the year between April 20 and May 20 on which Adenuga’s birthday falls. Taurus is symbolized by the bull, ordained by ancient civilizations and cultures with the sacred role of divinity.
In the world of politics and business, the bull is also a familiar symbol. “We grab it by the horns to demonstrate our authority… and we use the bull as a symbol in the stock market to represent a rise in prices”, according to Matt Sullivan, a former editor at New York Times and The Atlantic, who argues that the bull has, since prehistoric times, epitomized determination, strength, practicality, stoicism, determination, ambition, and virility.
Those rare attributes separating the bull from other animals also distinguish Adenuga from other Nigerian businesspeople. Adenuga is that man who, if he sets his mind on something, gets it accomplished no matter the obstacles. He is not just successful in oil and banking, but he has also built one of the largest telecommunication companies in Africa. So, as he joins the elite Septuagenarian Club today, Adenuga can look back with fulfilment on the countless battles he has fought and won.
Much has been written about Adenuga’s philanthropy and generosity of spirit. His legions of honours include the unusual investiture as Grand Commander of the Order of Niger (GCON) by President Goodluck Jonathan, decoration with the insignia of Commander of the Legion of Honour by President Emmanuel Macron of France and conferment of the highest civil national award of the Companion of the Star of Ghana (CSG) by President John Mahama of Ghana. Adenuga has also played pioneering roles across business sectors, including leading the first indigenous company in the country to strike oil in commercial quantity. But the enduring value of Adenuga is that he has built a formidable business institution that is spreading the Nigerian brand across the globe. And having lived by the business ethos of high risk, high rewards, Nigeria can be proud of his achievements.
In the world of business, especially in a country like ours, there are just too many risks and uncertainties. Yet, Adenuga has seized every moment in the past four decades to break barriers, surmount obstacles and create records. His ability to withstand or recover from setbacks is legendary. From surviving gunshots to losing his father in an auto crash, to having his GSM licence revoked, Adenuga has withstood things that would make peers buckle or crumble. While others dream and wait for the ‘right moment’ to act, risktakers like Adenuga are already investing their time, energy, and resources to reach new heights, even amid storms.
Adenuga is a man who believes in setting milestones. This has continued to stand him out as a real treasure of a man amongst men. And he has a compelling story. As a young businessperson, Adenuga never depended on his father’s wealth. In his early foray in the world of business, he borrowed money from his mother and sister to execute a contract. He rose to the pinnacle through hard work, determination, and dedication to duty.
To confront our economic challenges in Nigeria, we need the patriotic zeal and courage of men like Adenuga who will not only invest their money but also empower our people in diverse ways. For instance, the contribution of Globacom to the entertainment industry goes beyond sponsorships and endorsements to Corporate Social Investment (CSI) initiatives that have helped to resurrect and nurture the career of many veteran artistes who may have ended up in penury in a society that places little premium on art. By using local musicians, actors, actresses as well as global stars with Nigerian ancestry for endorsement, Adenuga has deployed his network to project Nigeria’s image beyond the call of business. Besides, from putting a lie to the claim that per second billing was impossible in Nigeria to crashing the prohibitive cost of acquiring a GSM line to bringing down the cost of airtime, Adenuga has positioned Globacom to play a disruptive role in the telecoms sector to the benefit of Nigerians.
That Adenuga’s bullish mindset serves us in Nigeria is not in doubt. We need risk takers who will work for growth opportunities and invest with a positive attitude. Today, his contributions have helped to improve the living standards of millions of people, particularly those in rural areas. The same goes for Africa where Adenuga has demonstrated that creating sustainable businesses is key to driving job creation and economic development. He has invested a significant amount of money in different projects across the continent, including agricultural development programmes, health research, and technology advancement initiatives.
Considering Adenuga’s extraordinary wealth and the government licensed sectors in which he operates (oil and gas, banking, telecoms), there are some who may want to downplay his achievements. I believe the best illustration of the Adenuga story is the Biblical parable of talents, a most profound teaching by the Lord Jesus Christ set within the context of investments and productivity (Matthew 25:14-30). As the parable goes, shortly before embarking on a journey, a rich man delegated the management of his wealth to three servants by giving five talents to one, two talents to another and one talent to a third. Upon his return, he found that the first two earned him a hundred percent profit on his investments, while the third servant, who had buried his talent in the ground, returned it without profit.
The Bible makes it clear that the master understood the capacity of each servant, which explains the disparity in the number of talents he gave them. The Nigerian state might have given either five or two ‘talents’ to a few, but there are thousands of other Nigerian businessmen who have been handed a ‘talent’ each. If only ten percent of them had been faithful, Nigeria would be a better country today. Therefore, the proposition that we need more Adenugas in Nigeria is not about the quantum of ‘talents’ given but rather in the effort they put into deploying those ‘talents’ for the advancement of our society.
Meanwhile, Adenuga’s aversion to the media and publicity is well known, avoiding the grandstanding that we see with many wealthy Nigerians. But in a rare public engagement to mark his 40th birthday in April 1993, Adenuga released a disquisition on ‘Achieving’ that provides a peep into his mind in a way that confirms his bullish disposition to business. An “achiever” according to Adenuga, “is a leader, a winner, all the time, not just once” while dismissing the notion that anybody should approach worthwhile ventures with the spirit of the Olympics which places emphasis simply on participation. “Leading the pack is the only worthwhile resolve for the achiever. There is no room for second place…to be the first, and always the first; to be the one who holds the aces that determine the pace of play. You match your wits against others, with your entire constitution springing to action.”
Three decades later, that remains the operating principle of ‘The Bull’.
Adenuga is a visionary who has done well for himself but has also produced enormous public value for his country and continent. And as he clocks 70 today, I join millions of people across the world in wishing him happy birthday, long life, and good health.
Mike Adenuga: An Ode to a Corporate Bull @70
By Ademola Adedoyin
Call it the golden era of Nigerian Journalism and you will be hitting the bull’s-eye. It was the early 1990s, in the aftermath of the journalism revolution wrought by the legendary and iconic journalist, the Late Dele Giwa and his team with the birth of Newswatch and other such newsmagazines that new era heralded.
This reporter had joined the team of the young, brilliant, thorough bred and highly motivated members of the Editorial Desk at The Sunday Magazine, TSM, under the leadership of two of the best in the industry- Chris Anyanwu and Ely Obasi of blessed memory.
Assigned the Energy Desk which happened to be the forte of the Publisher, Chris Anyanwu, having covered the beat creditably at the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA News Desk, only the most credible, factual, balanced and well written stories from the reporter could pass the stringent requirements of the two highly professional bosses.
It was in this setting that the reporter, April 1992, came about the Exclusive Story of the late MKO Abiola’s Summit Oil having discovered crude oil in commercial quantities at its Oil Prospecting Lease, OPL 205, Oil block.
It was a big deal; a big story, but at the same time, a story that could create huge credibility problem, if it goes awry. And this for a strong reason.
In the early 1990s, the then Minister of Petroleum Resources, Prof Jibril Aminu, under a policy aimed at encouraging indigenous participation in the Upstream Sector of the Oil Industry as oil explorers and producers, handed out oil prospecting blocks to some indigenous corporate icons of the day. They included such big players as Dr Mike Adenuga Jr (Consolidated Oil) Chief MKO Abiola (Summit Oil) Saleh Jambo NorthEast Petroleum, Jerome Udoji (Solgas Nigeria Ltd), Sani Bello and High Chief Tunde Afolabi (Amni Petroleum, The Sijuwades (Alfred James Petroleum), The Itsuelis (Dubril Oil), Arthur Eze (Atlas Petroleum), amongst others.
The policy was greeted with some strong dose of cynicism, with many industry operators insisting that indigenous players did not have the expertise, the required capital, the manpower etc to operate successfully in the sector. Many expressed the view that the beneficiaries would end up handing over the blocks to the real players known as technical partners for a fee and disappear into the thin air.
It was under this atmosphere of pervasive cynicism that the reporter came to the newsroom to announce to the bosses that Summit Oil had struck crude Oil, in its Otien Field in OPL 205. What made it more interesting was that the feat was attained with an all Nigerian team of professionals.
The two bosses sent the reporter back to his sources to demand for more documents and further proofs. More documents helped to confirm the earlier reports which indicated that, indeed, before this latest feat, another indigenous Oil Company, Mike Adenuga Jr’s Consolidated Oil had made commercial discoveries at its Bella 1 Well at its OPL 113 (now OML 103), a feat attained with an all Nigerian team of oil experts on the Christmas Eve of 1991.
That was the story that gave birth to the The TSM Exclusive Cover Story of April 1992 titled: *Abiola Strikes Black Gold*
That story not only exclusively accurately reported the Summit Oil Ltd’s oil find, it dissected the Professor Jibril Aminu’s Upstream Sector indigenous policy and also highlighted the fact that Mike Adenuga Jr’s Consolidated Oil was the first indigenous E & P Company to strike the precious black gold in commercial quantities at its Bella 1 Well.
It was a report that dominated discourse in oil industry circles the week it hit the newsstands and thereafter.
Apparently a man given to appreciating excellence and great efforts, the Guru, as he is fondly called by devotees and admirers alike, reached out to the young reporter to appreciate what he described as a brilliant and balanced report. The Chairman has his own unique way of appreciating such efforts in such a way that it will make a life long permanent, positive impressions on the beneficiary.
While that Exclusive Story signposted the beginning of a relationship between the reporter and the Corporate Titan, they were not to meet physically until 1993 when the Oil Mogul was invited to deliver a paper on the Challenges of Indigenous Oil Exploration and Production Companies by the National War College, Lagos, now known as the National Defence College, which has since relocated to Abuja. The Reporter was to bring a few of his colleagues on the Energy Beat to cover the event.
When the reporter went forward to introduce himself after the Guru had done justice to the topic of the day, his remarks were: “wow, you are so young and you write so well and so maturely..”
To say that the Guru is a unique human being is to state the obvious. To call him a Mystery, (note the Capital M) is to correctly situate his _modus_ _operandi_ . In the Guru’s Dictionary, the word failure is conspicuous by its absence. It is in his never-say-fail spirit that his bull’s moniker can be appreciated. If there’s the need for the Chairman to see you, all human factors would have to give way to make that possible. To achieve a corporate goal, all factors are adequately taken care of, thereby leaving no room for failure. It is the bull’s spirit; the Guru’s way.
The Guru’s business model does not envisage any obstacle as insurmountable, in fact, such challenges are considered as stepping stones to achieving corporate goals. Check out the challenges he faced to make a success of oil exploration and production, which he once described as the greatest cassino on earth and then the obstacles placed on his way by powerful forces before securing the telecom licences and the way he tackled competition when he arrived the telecoms market, then you will know that the Guru is not called the Bull for fun.
The Guru’s uniqueness however goes beyond achieving corporate goals and recording one business conquest after another. His human relations template is amazing for its detailed approach. He keeps records of all his contacts and reaches out to them appropriately to the amazement of the beneficiaries. Every year, without fail, this reporter has received a well decorated Christmas Card from the Guru in the last two decades. You don’t need to see regularly for the Guru to remember you. And that is what stands him out as a unique creature, who, even though may not be readily accessible, remains true to his friends and humanity at large.
The Bull’s belief in remaining at the background while he records one feat after the other and one corporate conquest after another has definitely worked for him.
With this uncommon and unique style, controversies, scandals, crises have all kept a safe distance from the Guru.
With businesses that have grown so humongous as to place its never-say-die promoter as the second richest Nigerian, there is no doubting the fact that the Guru’s unique business and relationships templates have worked perfectly for this Corporate Icon who looks ready to continue to dominate the global business landscape in the decades to come.
As the Bull marks his three scores and ten on the terrestrial side, may The Most High grant him many more decades of more corporate conquests and accomplishments.
Adedoyin, marketing communications specialist, wrote in from Lagos
Mike Adenuga Jnr: The Man Who Can Give the Moon
By magnus Onyibe
In the past one year or thereabouts , l have been trying to recover from the shock of the jaw dropping gift that l had received from Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr, who is one of Africa’s foremost entrepreneurs and one of Nigeria’s most illustrious sons, that for lack of a better nomenclature, l would like to also refer to as the ‘Philanthropist -General’ of our time.
As he clocked seventy (70) years on Saturday, 29 April, 2023, ceaseless tributes to the man of the people and of all times, have been flowing in torrents from all over the world and from all strata of society.
They include those from very consequential leaders of strategic countries of the world, ranging from the president of our country, Nigeria,as well as current and past presidents of neighboring countries such as, Republic of Ghana and Benin to the current prime minister of the second richest country in Europe, France as well as numerous employees of his business conglomerate spread across the African continent and beyond.
It is remarkable that all the soul stirring tributes extolling the enthralling virtues of the most effable and humane man that l have ever come across are from both the high and mighty as well as the plebeians in Nigeria,African society and the world at large.
Let us also keep in mind that there are legions of indigent folks who are not privileged to have access to mass media platforms to share their own stories that would melt the heart of even Lucifer himself, about how Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr’s uncommon philanthropic gestures have redefined their lives.
That indicates that the GLOBACOM founder and chairman for whom the entire world is clinking glasses in celebration of his moving to the seventh (7th) floor of life (70th birthday), has a knack for touching lives from the top of the echelons of society to the bottom of the rung.
So, in light of the above reality, it would be unwise or remiss of me to go on a rehash of the Globacom founders tough, instructive and inspiring journey to wealth which has been the subject of a handful of case studies in entrepreneurship conducted in a variety of institutions of higher learning across the world.
All that need to be said about how Chief Adenuga Jnr did not ‘bury his talent’ a metaphor lifted from the holy Bible that Mr Segun Adeniyi, Thisday Newspaper Editorial Board chairman, leveraged to illustrate the entrepreneurial prowess of the man that many refer to as the ‘Spirit of Africa’, did justice to the tycoon’s accomplishments as a quintessential business and jobs creator.
For those who may not be familiar with the bible narrative about the Talent, it is about how a wealthy man that gave his servants Talents (funds) when he was going on a long journey. While some of the servants invested their Talents and earned profit which they handed to their master upon his return, a particular one buried the talent allocated to him instead of generating more income with it.
Disappointed in the servant that buried the Talent entrusted in his care, in anger the master took the Talent off him and gave it to the servants that multiplied their Talents through enterprise.
Clearly, the analogy above is very apt because Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr has not only by dint of hard work multiplied the Talents allocated to him, a feat which has already been put on display in the effusive outpouring of encomiums on the man that personifies the concept of honest hard work and reward; he has also been a very generous giver to his compatriots in all spheres of life and all strata of society.
Perhaps, his attitude of being a very cheerful giver is in fulfillment of the doctrine or mythology in Christendom that wealthy people are custodians of God given wealth which they are supposed to use to lift the less privileged.
How many affluent people in the world have such a noble mindset?
In my reckoning, Chief Mike Adenuga is the type of man,who if he had the moon, can give it out in philanthropy to any man/woman who needs and deserves it, irrespective of tribe, tongue or creed.
Hence in my tribute to the shy and at the same time bold like a bull wealth creator,who prefers not to be talked about-Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr ,l am concentrating on his somewhat understated acts of kindness and generosity to society as a whole and to individuals- both the affluent and indigent- in measures that appear to dwarf his financial wealth,even though he is stupendously rich.
Ordinarily, what the wealthy are used to, or are required to give out in philanthropy is a fraction of their riches.
But the myriads of testimonies about his large heartedness, the quantum of what Chief Adenuga gives and the burgeoning number of his benefactors appear to be so gargantuan, that it is difficult for some close followers of his philanthropic gestures not to assume that he gives his all.
One unique thing about his giving is that it is not just to his family members or people with similar business interests who have potential values that he would harness in the future. But, as l found out, his humanitarianism is multifaceted and multidimensional because his mission/goal is to affect humanity positively without frills.
That reality is underscored by the fact that if life serves a compatriot or even a fellow human being lemon,and Chief Adenuga is in a position to help, he would facilitate the process of the victim turning the lemon into lemonade.
And there are multiplicity of instances that he played such roles especially in the lives of our compatriots in the sports and creative as well as performing arts worlds which are too numerous to be listed in this piece.
As my good friend, Bashorun Dele Momodu, Thisday newspaper columnist and Ovation Magazine Publisher, noted in his tribute to the business colossus and humble owner of GLO telecommunications and Conoil Producing, who also has significant stakes in major banking, real estate and construction concerns, Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr, in just a space of one year; he was gifted two premium cars – Audi A8L and Range Rover worth eighty five (N85m) million naira amongst other goodies.
Who does that for someone who is not his father or mother, siblings or business facilitators/collaborators?
But as Mr Momodu pointed out in his well crafted exposé, the generous gifts to him were sudden and surprising from the man whose birthday has got very significant tongues waxing lyrical in attestation to his Midas touch in business and also his being imbued with the spirit of kindness to give freely to fellow humans without strings attached.
Although, l am convinced that the man known as The Bull by his friends and associates would be uncomfortable with the disclosure that l am about to make, because he is an ‘apostle’ of one hand giving without the other knowing; but l can not resist sharing with his millions of well wishers across the world, that l have also been a ‘victim’ of his out of this world ‘drop dead’ gifting.
Imagine receiving a bank cheque with not just single, but multi digits figures on it amounting to a huge sum of money that would keep the mouth of many readers agape with incredulity!
Add the fact that it was unsolicited, but an instinctive decision of my benefactor who has become legendary in his love for being his brother’s keeper, as his favour literally came out of the blues, then you can begin to have an idea of the reason that l confessed in the opening paragraph of this essay that l am still trying to recover from the positive effect of the pleasant surprise.
And I was stunned by his fabulous gift because l am not a product of his loins, neither a sibling, nor a business associate or even an employee of the man that without equivocation, l would like to refer to as the most illustrious son and selfless giver that has ever come out of Ijebuland, Nigeria, Africa and indeed the world.
So, what manner of man is Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr, the consummate business Titan who can gift a man something as priceless as the moon?
That is the optics with which most people that he has touched their lives through fabulous gifts, view the favors that he has doled out to them.
In my modest understanding of life, only God gives freely without strings attached.
The assertion above is underscored by the fact that it is only God that freely gives every living being, particularly humans air-the most critical element for the sustenance of life .
It is also only God that makes the sun to shine upon and rain fall freely on Mother Earth to sustain those who believe in Him and those that do not, without discrimination.
Indeed, it is a rare and unique display of humanity that Chief Mike Adenuga embodies such qualities associated with only human beings blessed with higher minds and not mere mortals.
Strikingly, such godly values of freely giving and intentionally hiding his large heartedness from public glare is in adherence and consonance to God’s injunction in the holy Bible in Mathew 6:3: “But when you give to the poor and do acts of kindness, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (give in complete secrecy).
It is unsurprising that some benefactors have justifiably gushed about Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr’s fantastic acts of kindness and have therefore conceptualized him in the image of Angel Gabriel.
Well, it is worth pointing out that angels often announce the gifts being conveyed from God to their benefactors, except on few occasions when there was a caveat for silence.
Take for instance, the immaculate conception of Mary mother of Jesus Christ and wife of Joseph the carpenter whose tongues were tied until Jesus was birthed.
But given that Chief Adenuga detests publicizing what l would like to characterize as his ‘do goodness’ through his intentional efforts at keeping his wondrous generosities outside the klieg lights, it may seem uncharitable that l am breaking the code of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing, while engaging in charity as enunciated in the holy Bible.
While not being unmindful that l am
in contravention of the philanthropist’s core value, ethos and guiding principle of giving in secrecy, l have taken solace in the fact that even when Jesus Christ, the son of God had instructed the ten (10) lepers that He had pronounced healing upon to go and show themselves to the priests, it was disappointing that only one returned to show gratitude to Jesus Christ, as narrated in the Bible book of Luke 17:11-19.
That is why l have elected to acknowledge and celebrate the cheerful giver, Chief Mike Adenuga’s largesse to me, so that l would not be like the nine (9) lepers that failed to go back to their healer to show gratitude.
So, while recognizing that l risk making the extremely shy, humble and enigmatic birthday celebrant a bit uncomfortable, l apologize for the indiscretion unreservedly.
At the same time,l have rationalized my action by terming it ‘good offense’ in the manner that the American civil rights activist and member of House of Representatives, John Lewis of blessed memory, dignified dissent as ‘good trouble’ back in the days of the struggle for black voting rights activism in the United States of America, USA.
In my reckoning, it is better l ‘offend’ a bit the extraordinarily benevolent giver in the mold of Santa Claus (Father Christmas) and mother Theresa combined, than act like the nine (9) healed lepers that failed to return to Jesus Christ to show gratitude, earlier referenced.
Although, my action of spreading the unique and awe inspiring favours dolled out to a myriad of folks is in contravention of the rule of the man with the heart of God as Chief Mike Adenuga may be equated to modern day David, whom God referred to as the man after His heart, according to the Bible narrative in Acts 13:22. But the philanthropist extraordinaire prefers to stick to the original injunction of God: give in complete secrecy.
As things currently stand, it appears as if Chief Adenuga Jnr has no choice but to forgive his legion of friends and associates that have exposed his well guarded secret of doing good and keeping it under the radar.
Put succinctly, one is encouraged by the fact that a deluge of beneficiaries comprising thankful men/women of influence and indigent Nigerians alike, have also erred by breaking the humble and cheerful giver’s ‘code’ of being his brothers keeper without ado.
Certainly, since as the saying goes: a gold fish has no hiding place, the culture of spreading the milk of kindness that Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr has obviously democratized by extending his compassion to both the needy and not so needy, no matter their tongue, tribe or creed, was bound to become an open secret, sooner or latter.
It is against the backdrop of the human milk of kindness that has percolated from the top to the bottom of Nigerian society, and indeed in Africa through sheer acts of charity via support for stakeholders in the sports, arts and culture space that the 70th birthday of the man that most of his admirers fondly refer to as Chairman – derived from the fact that he has founded and currently the chairman of multiple firms that have attained the status of unicorns-has unsurprisingly triggered.
Chief Mike Adenuga’s birthday has triggered so much emotions from Nigerians from all works of life with such great aplomb to the extent that folks hitherto known to be taciturn have voluntarily chosen to become voluble in sharing life changing experiences that the man of the moment and altruist has inspired or positively wrought on their lives.
At this juncture, l would like to crave the indulgence of readers to allow me share how I was first introduced to the man whose 70th birthday has got millions of tongues wagging -no pun intended.
I first met Chief Adenuga in 2003, two (2) decades ago, when he was in the process of launching his game changing and wave making telecommunications firm, GLOBACOM.
The meeting was facilitated by Hon. Nduka Irabor, journalist par excellence and ex member of National Assembly, NASS that represented lka Federal Constituency of Delta State.
At that time, l was a manager in charge of corporate communications in the defunct Continental Trust Bank, CTB owned and managed by my friends and brothers, Mr Ike Nwabuoku and Mr Tony Elumelu amongst many other investors.
I was interviewed for a job to head the corporate/public communications department of the first indigenous GSM telephony firm founded and managed by my benefactor Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr which has now become the wave making GLO network that is the number two (2) network in Nigeria in terms of subscription.
Despite being offered the job after the interview, l opted to remain in CTB with my friends at a time that the bank was floundering under the yoke of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN sanction for foreign exchange, FX infractions.
Being a loyalist and a man that can not jump from one ship to another in times of trouble, I tarried with the hope that the dire situation would be sorted out and the bank would be salvaged.
But the ailing bank was not rescued. Instead, it got gobbled up by a rejuvenated Standard Trust Bank, STB that was being driven by Mr Elumelu who had exited CTB/MBCOM arrangement by deciding to tread a new path that culminated in his ultimate acquisition and turnaround of then ailing, United Bank for Africa, UBA which is currently amongst the five (5) top tier banks in Nigeria and changing the financial landscape of Africa.
As the saying goes,the rest is history because l had to quit the job at CTB and after a short intervening period during which l was an entrepreneur having secured the franchise to be the exclusive partner with JVC electronics company of Japan for the importation and distribution of their products in Nigeria.
Thereafter, l was lured back into banking by another friend, Mr Fidelis Tilije (currently commissioner for finance in delta state government) who was managing another up and coming, Fortune bank which is also currently defunct.
But my sojourn in Fortune Bank was only for a short period before l was finally headhunted by my friend,brother and mentor in politics,Chief James lbori,then governor of Delta state who invited me to join his cabinet in his second term of office in 2003.
The next time l was lucky to encounter Chief Adenuga Jnr who has become a fairy godparent, also fondly referred to as the GURU was with my new boss and brother ,Chief Ibori , then governor of delta state , at Heathrow airport, London, United Kingdom, UK.
It is Chief lbori that helped deepen my closeness to the man whose businesses have empowered millions of humans not only in Nigeria, but across the African continent via provision of employment to many and as source of business to suppliers of sundry goods and services to the numerous firms in his conglomerate.
And the business czar, Chief Adenuga, who has the memory of an elephant that never forgets,(he remembers everything) which is why he has committed in his memory all those who have facilitated the favors that he has received in the course of managing his very private life that has seen him conceiving, birthing and nurturing his plethora of humanity touching and life changing business concerns that span the subregion of the African continent
Despite my not working for him in his then emerging telecommunications firm, Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr’s GLO that has become a sort of telecommunications behemoth dominating African landscape with a strategic submarine cable, GLO 1 that renders services to other telecommunications services providers; l have been adopted as an ‘Aburo’ translated as younger brother in Yoruba parlance.
It is a measure of the depth of the goodness of his heart that as he clocks the platinum age of 70 that the Good Samaritan is being saluted by a broad spectrum of Nigerians and indeed humanity, because his influence is not just local to Nigeria, not even only pan African, but it extends to Europe, the Americas, and also Asia, perhaps less so.
Over the past few years,l have had the privilege of being a guest in the numerous dinner parties that he has hosted in his palatial home: Bellisimo On The Waterfront in Banana Island, Lagos to welcome or send-forth a plethora of diplomats from all parts of the world to Nigeria.
And by being in the company of Chairman Adenuga, l have had the privilege of my palates being treated to sumptuous seven (7) course meals and my taste buds have also been savoring fine liquors that can be as rare as forty (40) years old single malt whisky that costs as much as four (£4,000) thousand Uk pounds per bottle.
That is not all, as I have also been opportune to sit at tables where the man with uncommon knowledge about our country’s evolution from cradle to the present socioeconomic and political situation, (yet remains very apolitical) has shared his fascinating and inspiring experiences in the course of his evolution from a young and restless undergraduate student in the United States of America, USA working hard to eek out a living by combining academics with being an entrepreneur at the same time.
Apparently,these are traits he inherited from his parents-father, who was a school teacher and mum that was a trader.
By and large, it can be surmised that it is from his parents that he inherited the talents that have propelled him into becoming an institutional colossus that he is today.
Did l mention that his palatial abode in Banana island, Lagos that occupies an entire close which is a very expansive strip of water front property named: Bellisimo At The Waterfront is apart from having residences and offices ensconced in the private enclave is complete with a magnificent chapel and a huge banquet hall?
Amongst other accoutrements, the banquet hall features a stage for live shows and it is certainly the most exotic and the smartest purpose built banquet hall in a private home that l have seen in Nigeria.
In my reckoning, it is only the ball room in Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Florida, US resort/home of the 45th president of the USA, Mr Donald J Trump, that surpasses the size and decor in Bellisimo At The Waterfront,Chief Adenuga’s manor.
What else can one say about the man who has internalized God’s injunction: ‘whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers,that you do unto me’ (Mathew 25:40) than to give him a shout out on this auspicious occasion of his platinum birthday.
Happy birthday to the Yoruba man also known by some of his friends who are lgbos as ‘Nnam Ukwu’ translated as my big boss in lgbo dialect.
In Nigeria of today where ethnicity is occupying left and center as it has become a polarizing factor being weaponized by nefarious political actors, it speaks volumes about how detribalized Chief Mike Adenuga Jnr. is.
Chairman, please accept my Seventy (70) gun salutes in commemoration of this epochal occasion of your very significant birthday.
The Bible tells us that God allocated three scores and ten (70) to us as humans on Mother Earth and by His grace you have attained and surpassed that age.
My prayers is: may it please the almighty God to grant us the favor of being around to give you one hundred (100) gun salutes to mark your 100th birthday in thirty (30) years time before our time on earth is done.
ONYIBE, an entrepreneur, public policy analyst, author, development strategist, democracy advocate, alumnus of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA and a former Commissioner in Delta State government, writes from lagos.
For continuation of the conversation, pls visit www. magnum.ng.
Audacious and Tenacious: The Story of Dr. Mike Adenuga – A Phenomenon @70
By Michael Effiong & Eric Elezuo
There is no better time than now when the entire world stands in awe and admiration as he clocks the BIG 70 to share the inspirational, audacious and tenacious story of Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr GCON,CSG, CdrLH.
His story is better felt than told, better expressed than imagined. Well known but hardly seen, his story is the kind that will be so legendary that an -ism will be added to his name because his business trajectory and personal philosophy are uniquely his-and therefore worthy of emulation.
Some call him The Guru, others refer to him as the The Bull or most recently, the Spirit of Africa, one thing is sure, Adenuga is like the proverbial Iroko tree who is unlike any other. In terms of humility, pedigree, magnanimity, wealth and portfolio of investments, he is one of a kind.
In any area of business that he plays, he almost always makes significant impact and the facts are there for all to see.
When the Federal Government decided to give indigenous businessmen licences in the dollar-denominated but capital- intensive upstream oil sector, Adenuga was one of those who applied.
Unlike others who sold their licences for quick bucks, Adenuga, the visionary, decided to go into full scale prospecting and exploration. The gamble paid off as one of the wells that was being drilled struck oil, making his company, Consolidated Oil, the first indigenous Nigerian company to discover oil in commercial quantity.
Ever since that historic event of Tuesday, December 24, 1991, he had popped many bottles of choice champagnes and sipped some bottles of exotic cognacs to celebrate the execution of many mega deals.
Despite his success, Adenuga believes business must have a human face, it must add value, it must have an impact and ultimately, be socially responsible. These are some of the core values that he considers before throwing his money into any investment.
That is not all, he also firmly believes that the world is a field of battle and you must prepare to win, not some time but all the time. He’s a mountain climber like the Tibetan Monk, who believes that you must survive all odds to get to the top.
Incredible tales have been told about his amazing capacity for work. He is known to sleep very little when there is work to be done and he expects his staff to imbibe the same work ethic. Though generous, he is said to have zero tolerance for incompetence or sloppiness. With him, you must be on your toes every time.
It is therefore no surprise that his targeted investments and the grace of God Almighty have placed him well ahead of the authentic list of billionaires. His never-give-up spirit is well known and it is this force that has driven him to achieve feats many mortals will think are impossible.
In the entire continent of Africa, Dr. Mike Adenuga is in a class of his own-and therefore, it is inconceivable to actually put him in the same sentence or list as any of the others. He is without any shadow of doubt, Africa’s hidden treasure.
The reason is simple: Unlike many others whose worth can be calculated via their listed companies and assets, Adenuga’s intimidating wealth is usually in the realm of speculations, they are mostly privately-owned- which is reason he is usually given any position that meets the fancy of the publications.
Ololade Olaoye wrote, “Let us face it, if we count the numbers, dollar for dollar, Mike Adenuga would sweep everyone off the park. But we are in the world of paid narratives and agenda, where you can buy your place on the Rich List and those who already merited their place there don’t mind paying a few bucks to be overvalued. But if you ever become a billionaire, be this one: the billionaire who doesn’t care for the validation of Rich lLsts and the media. The one who touches lives here and there, far and beyond. And ultimately, the one who’s more about the truth of the matter, than the narratives written by others. We all can’t be the Spirit of Africa but trust me, we can learn a lot from his values and essence.” We concur with this assertion, truth be told, he has no rival.
Let’s then take you into the world of this symbol of endurance, entrepreneur extraordinaire and self-made business titan who is certainly one of the wealthiest black men in the world.
HIS EARLY LIFE
Born on April 29, 1953 to Oloye Michael Adenuga Sr and Chief (Mrs) Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga, the Yeyeoba of Ijebuland, Otun Gbadebo of Ikija and Iyalaje of Ijebu-Igbo, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr was not a silver spoon kid but his parents were comfortable.
The indigene of Oru, Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State was born and schooled in Ibadan. He attended the famous Ibadan Grammar School. He had his university education in the United States. He majored in Business administration with emphasis on Marketing.
While in school, to augment the allowance sent by his parents, he worked as a cabbie (Taxi Driver), putting in many hours of work a week. This culture of back-breaking hard work shaped him for his ambitious business adventures later in life.
Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr is married to Mrs. Titi Adenuga (nee Adewale). She provides the comfort and stability that such an incredibly busy man requires. His children are Oyin, Babajide (Bobo), Paddy, Bella, Eniola, Bimbo, Sade and ‘Niyi Jnr. He also has grandchildren. This close knit family members will be the ones around him today as he celebrates his birthday.
As soon he finished his studies in the United States, Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr. returned to Nigeria. His mother was into business, and it was under her tutelage that he began trading. It is probably because of the tremendous impact that she had in his life as Business Adviser that he adored her so much. Before she passed on in 2005, he dotted on her.
Dr. Adenuga Jr, who is the youngest of his parent’s five children, began by selling removable car stereos. Probably sensing his business acumen, he was allowed to run the family saw mill factory in Ogun State.
He began to steadily grow the business. First, he went into the importation of saw mill equipment, then veered into importation of beer eventually hitting it big with his importation of lace.
Recounting those early days, the businessman extraordinaire said he was returning home from a trip in the United States when he missed his British Airways flight and had to fly Swiss Air. On that flight ,he was lucky to sit next to the owner of one of the biggest lace manufacturing companies in Austria.
He, it was, who convinced him before the flight touched down to give lace importation a shot. He took this advice and the reward was good. Later, he also went into tomato puree and vegetable oil. He was a sort of Jack of all trades and master of all. By the age of 26, he was already a millionaire.
As he grew older with more financial muscle, he decided to streamline his operations and look for investments in key sectors of the economy to concentrate on. That was how he began to structure the Mike Adenuga Group where he is Chairman.
When General Ibrahim Babangida decided to break the monopoly of foreigners in the oil industry and encouraged Nigerians to participate, Adenuga was one of those who took up the challenge.
His company, Consolidated Oil applied for and was granted some oil blocs. It was a very risky decision and even his mother advised him against it. He spent over $100 million on evaluation, interpretation and drilling. His courage and tenacity paid off when Consolidated Oil became the first Nigerian company to explore, discover and produce oil in large commercial quantities. Now called Conoil Producing Limited, it is currently the leading indigenous oil and gas exploration and producing company in Africa.
Years later in year 2000, he bought over the moribund National Oil and Chemicals Company (NOLCHEM), taking over the government’s majority shares. He has since injected fresh funds into the company and rechristened it Conoil Plc.
Conoil Plc has over 450 retail outlets all over the country and is the acknowledged leader of development in modern retail outlets such as mega stations and non-space pumps in new-look retail outlets. It is the market leader in aviation fuels.
Adenuga’s most ambitious project yet is in telecommunications. His company, Globacom is the Second National Operator in the country. The first is the government-owned NITEL. It is obvious that with Globacom, Adenuga is not interested in short-term profit, he is there for the long haul and of course, his desire is to give Nigerians and Africans world class telecommunication services.
When he launched the network, he was two years behind the others, Adenuga’s entry strategy was to be innovative and aggressive. He waged a price war, democratized and demystified telephone services. Today, the ultimate risk taker has taken Globacom from the nadir to the zenith of the industry.
Glo was the only operator in Africa to launch its operations on the superior 2.5G network which enabled the convergence of voice, data and multimedia technologies.
But more importantly, it launched operations on Per Second Billing, thus ensuring subscribers only pay for actual time spent on a call instead of the practice of billing customers N50 per minute even when the call cuts off at just 2 seconds. It also crashed the cost of SIM card from N30,000 to N6,999 and later N100, thereby making it possible for low income earners, students and artisans to own GSM lines today. It is now one of the most recognizable brands across the continent.
The network currently has over 60 million subscribers, and is the most preferred network in Nigeria, with a vast network of already laid fibre crisscrossing all parts of the country.
The Globacom network comprehensively covers over 400,000 communities, all the 36 states and all major highways. Globacom has highly successful subsidiary networks operating in other West African countries.
Reputed to be very hands-on in the operations of his businesses, Dr. Adenuga, whose daughter, the cerebral Mrs. Bella Disu is the Executive Vice Chairman, Globacom, still gets briefs on the day-to-day running of his business empire.
Glo 1 – This is the only solely-owned high capacity submarine cable with connection to the USA and running from the UK through African and European countries. It has been and continues to be a huge commercial success at the heart of the socio-economic development of Nigeria.
It is remarkable that it is a Nigerian company that has pulled off this ambitious project. One of Adenuga’s close associates said the idea of building a submarine cable berthed when the entrepreneur went on a business trip to Paris, the French capital, sometime around 2008.
While there, he found out that telephone calls to Nigeria were epileptic unlike the connection between France and other parts of Europe. When he made enquiries about what could be done to solve the problem, he was told it was to have an international submarine cable. There and then, Dr Adenuga decided to build Glo 1, and the rest is now history. The project is a testament to the entrepreneurial spirit and foresight of ‘The Guru’.
Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr also has vast holdings in the banking, real estate and infrastructure sectors of Nigeria.
It is not hard to imagine that Adenuga is the richest man in Nigeria, and indeed Africa, and of course when one quantifies wealth in terms of liquidity, and not stocks. He is unmatchable.
HIS SUPPORT FOR SPORTS
His passion for giving is not only personal, the culture has also been imbibed by his companies especially Globacom. Through Globacom, he became the biggest supporter of football in Africa.
For so many years, the company supported the development of Nigerian sports through the sponsorship of the Nigerian Premier League and the national football teams of Nigeria when no other corporate organisation wanted to touch the assets.
Globacom spent billions of naira in developing the Nigerian league and clubs, and this culminated in Enyimba Football Club winning the prestigious Champions League twice in a row, while the Super Eagles won the Nations Cup in 2013.
In that same 2013, the company signed a N1.9 billion deal with Nigeria’s league Management Committee. The company also did same for other associations and major leagues in Africa.
Dr. Mike Adenuga Jr. also started a football revolution with the sponsorship and transformation of the yearly Glo/CAF Footballer of the Year Awards. He is the undisputed pillar of sports in Africa.
HIS GIANT STRIDES IN CULTURE AND CREATIVE INDUSTRY
Nigeria’s entertainment industry has also received a massive boost through Adenuga’s love for the arts expressed through Globacom.
No company in the nation’s private sector in the last two decades, has consistently invested largely in Nigeria’s entertainment industry like Globacom Limited.
Adenuga’s vision is reflected in Glo’s youth-driven ecosystem. There is no strata of Nigeria’s entertainment industry that you will not find the signature of Glo on it: from music to acting to comedy to sports, etcetera, the list is long.
Glo has come to be regarded as a network of stars. No corporate organization has had the kind of constellation of entertainment heavyweights as it brand ambassadors as Globacom. All through the years, the cream of the country’s musicians, footballers, literary icons, actors, actresses and comedians have either be signed on as brand ambassadors or featured in the company’s commercials.
Some celebrities who have graced Glo’s Hall of Fame include: King Sunny Ade, Ebenezer Obey, Osita Osadebe, Oliver d’ Coque, Prof Wale Soyinka, Yusuf Maitama Sule, Nelly Uchendu, Onyeka Onwenu, D’Banj, MI Abaga, PSquare. Others are Rita Dominic, Ini Edo, Juliet Ibrahim, Matter Ankomah, Davido, Wizkid, Flavour, Gordons, Basketmouth, I go Dye, Teniola, Brother Shaggi, Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Osaze Odemwingie, Joselyn Dumas, Michael Essien, Anthony Joshua, etcetera.
While the commercials that featured these stars helped to market the Glo brand and make it a household name, the partnership benefited these celebrities very well as it served as strategic public relations for their individual brands and its attendant financial gains.
So far, no corporate organization has touched the lives of these celebrities like Glo. The advent of Glo has really been a blessing to celebrities in the industry and beyond. The most interesting factor is that Glo is still in the business of investing in the industry despite excruciating economic realities in the country.
Nigeria is a reservoir of talents when it comes to entertainment, and it seems Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr. understands the nitty-gritty of talents discovery, and spotting hidden treasures, especially as it effects the youths.
This explains Glo’s humongous investments in talent hunt shows in the last eighteen years. It has sponsored shows like: Rock ‘n’ Rule, GloNaiga Sings, Laffta Fest, and the world number one music singing talent reality TV show, X Factor, which birthed in Africa for the first time in 2013.
Others are Slide and Bounce concert, an entertainment tour which went round all the geopolitical zones of the country as well as Glo Mega Music Show and Glo’s Battle of the Year, which gave the winners a life-changing N9 million prize money, a Toyota Hiace bus valued at N25 million and other prizes.
Similarly, the nation’s art and culture have also been positively touched by Globacom. From Ojude Oba in Ijebu-Ode, Ofala in Onitsha, Lisabi in Abeokuta, Imeori in Abriba, Oru – Owerri in Imo state, Afia- Orlu In Nnewi, Anambra State and Abia –Ugwa in Isialangwa in Abia State.among others. The company has through sponsoring the festivals not only brought them to international limelight, but has also turned the host cities into major tourist attractions.
HIS PASSION FOR PHILANTHROPY
On a personal level, Mike Adenuga can be described as the most generous Nigerian alive. He gives ceaselessly.For this angel of mercy, giving is living
Describing Adenuga’s large heart in an article, The Boss Newspaper Publisher, Dele Momodu, wrote “Everyman should wake up and pray to meet and become good friends with the Spirit of Africa. Trust me, it is worth every second of it. Just imagine a man who dashes out the same kind of cars he drives to friends.
“He buys these expensive cars in multiples. I have been a beneficiary a few times, so I know. I have a friend who got a Range Rover while his wife got another jeep. How nicer and kinder can one be? No amount of money is too much for Adenuga to shell out on his family and friends. And he really does not expect anything in return. If you have done him a favour then you are truly triply, not doubly blessed, since Dr. Adenuga never forgets such favours and offers recompense even beyond your wildest dreams. Dr. Adenuga believes that his friends are entitled to the same kind of material things that he wishes for and buys for himself. He has no jealous or mean streak in him in that respect”.
Adenuga’s former close aide, Bode Opesietan also stated “Dr Adenuga’s generosity is legendary. He gives personal rewards like no other billionaire. If God has given you this kind of resources, it is not for you and your family alone” he would say”.
“All year round he splashes generous gifts on extended family, friends, associates, staff and the less privileged. He has a long list of beneficiaries he touches with life-transforming gifts. He is detailed and exquisitely tasteful, not only in the quality of gifts but also the manner the gifts are presented”.
Also during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adenuga was the first to donate N1.5 billion to fight the dreaded coronavirus scourge. He set the stage for other Nigerians to contribute to the management of the scourge. That is typical of the Guru, he leads, others follow.
According to Adenuga “How much money can one individual or his family enjoy? You must spread it and touch lives…that is what brings true happiness and joy. What’s the point if your friend is wealthy and it doesn’t show on his friends”.
There is nothing more to add. When it comes to philanthropy, Adenuga is in a class of his own! Indeed generosity is in his DNA!
HIS PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
Dr. Adenuga’s morals and proclivity are dictated by his abundant wealth of experience in life. He’s a very intelligent man who is vastly read and widely travelled. As a result, he not only understands the innate cruelty of man to fellow man, he has also on occasions experienced this first-hand to his surprise and chagrin. These experiences have shaped his thoughts and actions.
Dr. Adenuga loves integrity and loyalty. Because he hardly goes out, he is able to monitor people and events quietly from his desk and home.
Aside from this, He has had to navigate his way through the murky waters of Nigerian politics. Dr. Adenuga avoids and shuns politics like the plague. He does not believe that he must be involved with politics in order for his businesses to survive or thrive.
All he campaigns for is an avenue to do business on a level playing field because he knows that he can survive and outlast most people. He considers himself one of the fittest and the best, if not the fittest and the best since he is methodical, calculating and highly industrious and energetic. As he says often, he is hiding his head under the parapet as he is non-aligned and does not want this to be mistaken for support for one side or the other. He knows Nigeria and Nigerians very intimately, and does not want to attract unnecessary attention to himself or his business.
He is a sagacious and very methodical man, who rewards excellence. He does not suffer fools gladly. Most of his offices around the world are open 24 hours. There is always somebody to take his calls. When he has a brain wave, his adrenaline level pumps on over drive and he activates action immediately. Everyone who knows Dr. Adenuga knows he hates the word impossible. He is a workaholic, pure and simple.
HIS LIFE STYLE
You can call him an enigma and you will not be wrong. He is a very shy gentleman, a trait that many mistake for arrogance. Before Globacom, Dr Adenuga Jnr was one of Nigeria’s silent billionaires. He was making his money without fanfare. Then came Glo, and he became one of the most recognizable Nigerians alive.
Till date, he hardly attends public functions and even if he does he sneaks in without any fuss and leaves even before the Master of Ceremonies recognizes his presence.
Despite this elusive persona, those who have met him can attest to his ebullient nature. He is one man who catches his fun when he is in the mood. He has very fine and elegant taste. A connoisseur through and through.
Contrary to what many think, he still finds time to unwind most times only in the company of his inner circle of friends and family.
Dr. Adenuga is neither ostentatious or extravagant in his style and dress. For him moderation is the value of life. In the early days, it was obvious he loved safari suits, but these days nice flowing shirts which mostly have his personal crest emblazoned on them are the norm.
Of course like all billionaires, he loves powerful cars, nothing over the top or attention-seeking. And as per flying, he has the accoutrement that fits his jet set, super executive lifestyle, which means he has long forgotten what it looks like to fly commercial.
HIS LOVE FOR FRANCE
Dr. Mike Adenuga has always had a great affection for France. And for its language and culture. And as a great admirer of the high ideals and achievements of the people of France, he often visits the country, where he also owns property, for extended visits. In his business dealings too, he has maintained a productive and valuable relationship with French interests.
It was out of this desire, love and affection for France that he ardently supported the development of Alliance Française in Lagos, in the wish to see that its activities, efforts and initiatives could be enhanced, and its reach and appeal increased.
In endowing the concept and construction of the elegant new institute, Dr Mike Adenuga Jr has affirmed his deeply held commitment to the ongoing friendship between the people of France and the people of Nigeria, and is proud to have been able to facilitate and foster that friendship through the building of the Mike Adenuga Centre. The brand new, ultra-modern Mike Adenuga Centre was unveiled by French President, Emmanuel Macron in 2019.
It is for this great act and his humongous investments that the French president deemed it fit to bestow on him the country’s highest national honour.
HIS HONOURS ROLL
For his contribution to economies and communities across the globe, Dr. Mike Adenuga has been appreciated with so many awards, traditional titles and honours. The most prominent are the national honours from Nigeria, Ghana and France.
In Nigeria, he holds the highest civilian honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), this honour was hitherto reserved for mostly vice presidents.
In Ghana, he was awarded the highest civilian honour of Companion of the Star of Ghana (CSG). According to then President John Mahama, who conferred the indefatigable businessman with the honour at a state ceremony: ”You have touched many lives in Ghana. You have provided employment for our teeming youths, artistes, footballers and many more. I am particularly proud of you. This award is our way of a saying a simple thank you.”
The entrepreneur extraordinaire was also decorated with the Chavalier de la Legion d Honnuer (CdrLH), the highest National honour of France, by French President, Emmanuel Macron.
Explaining why the French Government decided to confer the honour on Adenuga, President Macron, who described the consummate businessman as a true model of Africa, noted that he had contributed immensely to the African and French economy.
He also applauded Adenuga for his promotion of the French Language and culture in Nigeria. There is no shadow of doubt that Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr is the most accomplished Nigerian businessman of our time.
Dr. Adenuga is many things and more, and today, we raise a toast to the impressive African treasure and business phenomenon. Happy 70th birthday sir!
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