Meet the Richest Nigerians
Wealth. That is the six-letter world that makes successful men and women work even harder than those who are struggling. They just do not rest. They have conquered the challenges of daily existence and now they want to conquer the potency of human limitations. To put food on the table is no longer an issue. Driving the latest cars is taken for granted. The best houses? They have many. Basic things of life have been taken care of. Now, the challenge is to build legacies of human achievements. Yet they have achieved so much but they spend many late hours striving to do more, consolidating on existing achievements and trying to break new frontiers. Failure is an anathema to them. They have built themselves; now they are building others and also building legacies that must outlive them. The world always celebrates these men and women. One of those who celebrate them is Forbes magazine. Obinna Chima highlights the profile of five Nigerians: Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga, Femi Otedola, Folorunso Alakija and Abdulsamad Rabiu that were named in the Forbes 2016 World’s Billionaires’ list released recently.
Aliko Dangote: The pan-African Business Mogul
Unassuming, suave and easy-going, Aliko Dangote, who is Africa’s richest man, founded and chairs Dangote Cement, the continent’s largest cement producer. Dangote was ranked 51 in the world in the latest Forbes World Billionaires.
The value of Dangote’s wealth was put at $15.4 billion. In 2015 Dangote Cement launched new plants in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Zambia and Tanzania. The company produces more than 30 million metric tons annually and plans to double capacity by 2018. Dangote owns about 90 per cent of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company. This percentage exceeds the 80 per cent ownership ceiling set by the Nigerian Stock Exchange. A spokesman for Dangote told Forbes that the company has until October 2016 to lower Aliko Dangote’s stake and plans to do so by then. Other companies in the Dangote Group, which is active in 15 African countries, include publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies. As a non-partisan and detribalised businessperson, he is generous to different political parties, religious groups and cultural institutions. His chains of businesses offer employment opportunities to a lot graduates from different ethnic backgrounds and with this contributes in reducing the high level of unemployment in the country. Born in Kano, his grandfather, the late Alhaji Sanusi Dantata, provided him with a small capital to start his own business, as was the practice then. He thus started business in Kano in 1977 trading in commodities and also building supplies. Dangote moved to Lagos in June 1977 and persisted in trading cement and commodities. Encouraged by tremendous success and increase in business activities, he incorporated two companies in 1981. These as well as others that followed now make up the conglomerate known as The Dangote Group.
Mike Adenuga: The Guru and his Enigma
He was just 29 when he started to blossom in business. But before then, he had to drive taxi in the United States of America to support himself when he was in the university. He used to have a friend
who many people, including those close to him, might not remember again.
His name is Femi Akinrinade. Together, they braced the odds and started a journey that is today being celebrated by Forbes magazine. Fortune smiled on Adenuga when he struck relationships with some military bigwigs in the 80s who gave him very lucrative government businesses. It was a time when many were not aware of such lucrative business ideas. But Adenuga knew them and he went after them. He might be a czar of oil and gas as well as telecoms today, but his foray into business actually started with importation of goods. It was from this the Ijebu, Ogun State-born mogul, affectionately called the guru, moved into banking. He started Devcom Merchant Bank and later Equatorial Trust Bank. In the early 1990s, his Consolidated Oil was one of the few indigenous companies to penetrate the capital-intensive downstream sector of the nation’s oil and gas industry. Since then, he has not looked back. Adenuga nearly burnt his fingers when he set up Communications Investments Limited, CIL, to bid for the $280million licence for global system for mobile telecommunications, GSM, in early 2001. He lost the bid. But he won’t give up. He set up Globacom, which was to win the bid for the second national carrier in 2002. Globacom rolled out in 2003 and started with per second billing which the two existing service providers said was not immediately possible. Since then, Adenuga has not looked back. Globacom is, currently, the second largest operator in Nigeria with 32 million subscribers. It also has operations in Ghana and the Republic of Benin.
Today, Adenuga with total wealth of $10 billion was ranked 103 richest people in the world by Forbes. He is Nigeria’s second richest man. In the latest ranking of World Billionaires, Forbes listed Adenuga among the biggest gainers among the African billionaires as his current net worth was put at $10 billion, up from $4 billion a year ago. Forbes said: “The significant jump in Adenuga’s fortune is attributable to new information on the value of his telecom, oil and real estate holdings. A higher estimate of Globacom’s revenues led Forbes to increase the value we assign to it.” Adenuga’s exploration outfit, Conoil Producing, operates six oil blocks in the Niger Delta. He also owns real estate firm, Proline Investments, which has hundreds of properties throughout Nigeria. Born on April 29, 1953, Adenuga studied in the United States where he got an MBA at Pace University in New York.
Femi Otedola: The Bones Have Risen…Again
When you are looking for a human manifestation of the saying that ‘never say die until the bones are rotten’, perhaps Femi Otedola, chairman of Forte Oil, might be one.
He was first named in the Forbes rich list in 2008. It was a time when fortune was beaming a positive smile on him and providence was on his side business-wise. But his business flight was to run into a stormy weather. It lost altitude and by 2009, a year after he was listed, he was off that list. The international economic meltdown of 2008 hit him hard. And coupled with mounting debts, tough times set in. But like they say, tough times do not last. Tough people do. And Otedola is a tough businessman who was not ready to bite the dust. By last year, he was back in the Forbes rich list, six years after he exited it.
With wealth valued at $1.8 billion by Forbes which makes him the third richest person in the country. He was ranked 1011 richest person in the world. Otedola is the controlling shareholder of publicly traded Forte Oil, an oil marketing and power generation company. Originally a Nigerian subsidiary of British Petroleum (BP), Forte Oil has more than 500 gas stations across the country. It owns oil storage depots and manufactures its own line of engine oils. In 2013, Otedola led the company to purchase a government-owned stake in a gas-fired power plant in Kogi State in central Nigeria. In September 2015, Swiss commodities giant, Mercuria, said it had acquired 17 per cent stake in Forte Oil for $200 million;. Otedola is a fitness buff, spending at least one hour in the gym every day. He was born in 1962 in Ibadan into the family of the late Sir Michael Otedola, a former governor of Lagos State who served between 1992 and 1993. In the late 80s, he ran the marketing for his family’s printing press before going on to trade petroleum products.
Folorunsho Alakija: An Amazon Who Dares
She threads where angels scamper for cover. She roughens it with men and is giving them a run for their money. Welcome to the world of Folorunso Alakija. The amazon who won’t is giving hope to the womenfolk that they too can reach for the skies.
She is the vice chair of Famfa Oil, a Nigerian oil exploration company that has a 60 per cent participating interest in block OML 127, part of the larger Agbami field, one of Nigeria’s largest deepwater discoveries, about 70 miles offshore. Its partners include Chevron and Petrobras. But many might not know: Folorunso was not always an oil and gas buff. She was a clothier, even if it was for the crème de la crème of the society. Her first company was a fashion label that catered for Nigeria’s elite women which including the wife of former military president, Ibrahim Babangida, Mariam. It was from this relationship that fortune smiled on Folorunso and she was awarded an oil prospecting license. Though at a point, Alakija was the richest woman in the world. But her net worth has fallen in the past year as a result of lower oil prices. But her status as richest woman in Nigeria has remained.
Born on July 15 1951 in Ikorodu, Lagos State, Folorunso came from a large family where she was the second surviving child of her mother who happened to be the first wife. She and her younger sister were sent to school abroad when she was seven years old. They went to a private school for girls in Northern Wales, and they were the only coloured (black) girls in the school. And because their fellow mates couldn’t pronounce their names, they coined names for them. She was being called Flo (Folorunsho) and Doyle for Doyin, her sister. In 1976, Folorunsho Alakija got married and the couple has four kids, all boys. All of them schooled abroad and are all engaged one way or the other in the family business.
Abdulsamad Rabiu: Truly a Chip off the Old Block
Rabiu is the founder of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate active in sugar refining, cement production, real estate, logistics and port operations.
Rabiu is expanding into cement production. In September 2015, BUA signed a $600 million deal with Sinoma International Engineering, a Chinese cement equipment and engineering service provider, to construct a second production line at its flagship Okpella cement plant, located in Edo State. Rabiu’s aim is to double capacity and expand BUA’s current 10 per cent market share in Nigerian cement. In January 2016, BUA Group agreed to sell its flour milling and pasta making businesses to Olam Group of Singapore for $275 million. Rabiu, the son of a businessman, inherited land from his father. He was born in Kano, where he did his early education. He then attended Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, in United States of America and returned to Nigeria at the age of 24 to oversee the family business. This was the time his father, Isyaku Rabiu, was detained by the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari on allegation of duty aversion on rice imports. As a young executive director at the company, Abdulsamad was able to steer the family business out of trouble created by the absence of their father.