03 April 2020 00:00:00 AM NEWS ALERT!
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a special publication Nigeria's business icons

Their profiles are intimidating. Astute. Enterprising. Renown. They are pace-setters, wealth creators and foremost employers of labour. They define Nigeria’s business. Their names are synonymous with business exploits and excellence.

In 2017, they dominated Nigeria’s business world, their stars shone brilliantly in the global business firmament. Enter Aliko Dangote, the face of business in Africa.  Enter Mike Adenuga, Femi Otedola, Benedict Peters, Tony Elumelu, Jim Ovia and Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija.

Aliko Dangote

His reputation as a businessman has gone beyond Nigeria’s shores. Beyond being the richest man in Africa, his exploits in business, are as noticeable in Nigeria, as they are in several African countries. Dangote Cement is much a household name in Nigeria, as it is in Cameroun, Congo, Ethiopia,  Senegal, Zambia and Tanzania. On cement alone, Dangote has well over 10 running plants across the African Continent.

Add to that, his ascending engagement in the field of the agriculture value chain, with over $4billion proposed investment in rice production, and several other ongoing  interests in tomatoes, sugar and gum Arabic, just to mention but a few. Alhaji Aliko Dangote’s industrial interests, whether in flour mills, salt, household items and industrial elements, is almost endless. At the moment, a line of auto assemblage is fully on stream, to help provide for the movement of the Dangote Group’s arrays of both raw materials and finished goods for the Conglomerates numerous production and distribution channels that must be serviced 24/7 round the clock to keep the plants running,  and as well satisfy its numerous and diversified customers.

Another huge sector that is unfolding in the Dangote Group is oil and gas.

Mike Adenuga

For millions of users of the GSM services in Nigeria and numerous businessmen and women who seek efficient services in the oil and gas sector,  the name that will pop up will be that of the Chairman, Mike Adenuga Group of Companies, Dr. Mike Adeniyi Ishola Adenuga Jr. (CON, GCFR).

An investment colossus, Adenuga operates in the oil and gas, telecoms and other sectors of the economy with human face, creating millions of jobs and extending his philanthropic gestures to every nook and cranny of the country.

In the telecoms sector, he demystified the elitist robe woven around telephony by destroying access fetters consciously erected by the elite class. He did not only crashed the punitive access cost of subscriber identification module (SIM) cards, he also dealt a huge blow on punitive tariff regime.

It was Adenuga’s Globacom that introduced per second billing in the telecoms industry. He has also blazed the trail in the introduction of very innovative products that have caught the attention of his competitors.

When he threw his hat into the uncertain telecoms ring about seven years ago, not many felt Adenuga could make any meaningful inroad as the industry was largely dominated by foreigners who not only had the financial muscle but rich experience of successful operation in a couple of sister African countries and the Middle East.

Though the third to start operation, no sooner had Globacom began operation than it became the toast of subscribers, setting the pace for others that even had track records of successes before starting operation in the country. Today, Globacom is not only the most innovative network in Nigeria, but the fastest growing in Africa and the Middle East, with operations in Nigeria, Ghana.

Adenuga who is also the Apesin of Ijebuland and Chairman of Globacom, is not just one of the richest on the continent, he is also a philanthropist per excellence whose impact on humanity is phenomenal.

Over the last two decades, he has consistently touched the lives of several thousands of people through silent donations and empowerment programmes which is unknown to many because of his humility and Spartan discipline.

One of the world’s wealthiest men, that sits atop one of Africa’s largest business empires and winner of numerous awards in recognition of his personal and business accomplishments, Adenuga is also a promoter of culture and sports.

A detribalised patriot, his telecoms firm, Globacom co-sponsors the One Lagos Fiesta, sponsors Ojude Oba Festival in Ogun State and  Ofala Festival in Onitsha, Anambra State.

With dogged determination to ensure the availability of telecommunications services to every Nigerian and the entire African continent, through the availability of bandwidth, the telecoms giant embarked on the construction of an undersea cable called Glo 1. The multi-million-dollar international submarine cable of the second national operator, berthed in Lagos in September 2009. Officials of the technical partners to the telecoms company, Alcatel-Lucent, handed over the Glo 1 submarine cable to Globacom, signaling the birth of a new era in telecommunications in the continent.

The 9,800 kilometre-long cable from the UK through Mauritania, Morocco and 16 West African countries, with dedicated extension to New York, USA, was anchored at its Landing Station at Alpha Beach, Lekki, Lagos.

The Glo 1 cable will deliver transmission capacity that will radically change Nigeria and Africa’s economic landscape by providing unprecedented high speed Internet services and make telecoms services much faster, more reliable and cheaper for consumers.

With a current capacity of 640 Gigabyte per second and an ultimate capacity of 2.5 Terabyte per second, experts say its ultimate capacity is enough to cater for the required broadband capacity of Nigeria for at least the next 15 to 20 years. The facility will provide the needed opportunity for West African countries and indeed Africa to leap forward economically through an excellent communications network and a cost-effective voice, data, video and e-commerce services across Africa, Europe and the rest of the world.

With 99.9 per cent reliability, world-class long distance voice, video and data communications services for African customers, the undersea cable will support the large bandwidth requirements of direct consumers and other service providers. The cable will free up resources for other forms of investments, which governments and business developments need, through broad market coverage at high capacity and at a fraction of cost and time and also facilitate foreign investment and employment opportunities in the sub region. The Intrepid, the ship which brought the Glo 1 cable, later left for Accra, Ghana to complete the Phase One of the installation in other West African countries, including Senegal and Cote D’Ivoire.

The landing of Glo 1 in Ghana will also boost the preparation for the nationwide launch of Glo Mobile Ghana. Glo also said that the Phase two of the submarine cable project will connect South Africa through Angola.

Benedict Peters

He is a beacon of the Nigerian oil and gas industry and one now commonly mentioned amongst Africa’s most successful corporate leaders.

A notable advocate for local content participation in the industry, his primary vision is to transform Nigeria’s economy through deploying cutting-edge, multi – faceted energy solutions.

Aiteo Group, his company founded in 1999, has adopted this integrated business approach that seeks to continually add value to the nation’s petroleum resources sector, with considerable success. Under Benedict Peter’s leadership, Aiteo acquired OML 29, reputedly Shell’s biggest onshore producing asset in Africa following a keenly contested world-class bid.  On assumption of operational control in September 2015, Aiteo grew the facility’s production output from 23,000bpd to a record 90,000bpd within one year by innovation, professionalism and attention to the needs of the host community. Aiteo’s take-over of Shell’s OML 29 has not only generated over 11,000 job opportunities, but also reinforces Aiteo’s position as a leading indigenous oil and gas company with prospects to become a major global player in the medium-to-long term.

As a firm believer in Nigeria, Benedict Peters has steered the Group’s strategic focus towards boosting the country’s overall financial capacity. Aiteo’s strategic strides have contributed Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) worth over US$4 billion to the Nigerian economy.


Femi Otedola

Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), remain the fuel powering Nigeria’s burgeoning economy. Whether used as combustion fuel for cars or diesel engines, as well as for generators, fuel is central to moving the nation’s economy forward. Granted that there are a number of dealers in this very essential product, the success story of how fuel oils the wheels of Nigeria’s economy, will not be complete without mentioning  the present day Forte Oil Plc. The company is not just listed among other marketers, it is the leader in the pack.

With an intimidating over 500 retail outlets, doting the nooks and cranny  of the country, there’s no other  better way of conceding the fuel distribution leadership position to this giant Indeed Forte Oil Plc is first among equals when the downstream segment of the oil and gas sector comes into play. The facts speak for themselves.

Forte Oil Plc’s push to further consolidate its emergence as the leading diversified energy services provider with an ever-expanding portfolio, covering Petroleum Marketing, Upstream Services, Power Generation and now Green Energy Solutions in line with the company’s  2017 strategy to be present along the energy value chain,  is now more than ever a reality.

The  vision to be the foremost integrated energy solutions’ provider in Nigeria and the need to diversify power segment is being actualized with the completion and certification of the overhaul at the Geregu Power Plant (GPP) and foray into the growing green energy space.

The N33.4billion Geregu Power Plant  (GPP) overhaul carried out by the Original Equipment Manufacturers, Siemens AG of Nigeria, is especially dear to Forte Oil’s heart and shows commitment to power sufficiency as a major contribution to the Nigerian economy. The overhaul increased the installed capacity of the GPP to 435megawatts from the 414Mw when Forte Oil took over in 2013.

The multiplier effect of the overhaul includes up-to-date knowledge and technology transfer for the Plant’s Technical Team, Turbines in pristine condition and availability of the installed capacity with all three installed turbines in working condition for the first time since it took over the GPP.


Tony O. Elumelu

Tony Elumelu sits atop a few other Nigerians whose sheer weight of economic contributions to the growth of the nation’s Gross Domestic c Product (GDP) cannot simply be ignored by any stretch of the imagination. He has traversed different strata and  sectors of the business spectrum, making his mark and leaving behind, landmarks in whatever areas he has played.

Whether one adopts a bottom-top approach, or top-bottom approach, ‘Tony’ as he is fondly called, always stands out.

Tony prepared himself to climb the ladder of life, by first going for the proverbial golden fleece. He has two degrees, the first was in Economics, followed by  a Masters from Ambrose Ali University, Ekpoma and the University of Lagos, Akoka, respectively.  He is an alumnus of Harvard.

Tony Elumelu’s achievements, engagements and successes so far recorded, dwarfs whatever educational  qualifications, he may  have attained.  Tony the Economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, is the Chairman of Heirs Holdings, United Bank for Africa (UBA), Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.

He holds the Nigerian national honours, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR). Beyond the nation’s shores, Tony Elumelu has been recognised as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People, far back in 2012” by Forbes Magazine.

Tony Elumelu has been a consummate banker, establishing his track and mettle in his early days at Allstates Trust Bank. On his exit from Allstates, he  acquired Standard Trust Bank, turning it into among the top five players in Nigeria.  In 2005 he led the acquisition of United Bank for Africa and transformed it from a single country bank to a Pan-African institution

Following his retirement from UBA in 2010, Tony Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors. In the same year, he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organisation dedicated to the promotion of excellence in business leadership and entrepreneurship and the enhancement  and competitiveness of the private sector, across Africa.

In 2011, Heirs Holdings acquired a controlling interest in the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), a publicly quoted conglomerate that has business interests in the agribusiness, energy, and hospitality sectors, and has been appointed chairman of the Corporation.

Elumelu serves as an advisor to the USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa(PCGA) Partners Forum. He sits on the Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council.


Jim Ovia

Jim Ovia started his career working for Barclays Bank (now Union Bank), as a banking clerk in 1973.
He joined International Merchant Bank (IMB) as a Financial Analyst in 1980 and moved to the management centre in 1987. He headed the Corporate Finance department of Merchant Bank of Africa, from 1987 to 1990. His interest in computers was picked in 1977 when he worked as a part-time Computer Operator at Baton Rouge & Trust Company, Louisiana. He  served as the Pioneer President of the Nigeria Internet Group (NIG). He was a Co-Founder of Zenith Bank plc and served as its Group Managing Director/CEO  from 1990 to July 10, 2010.  Jim Ovia has been the Chairman of the Board and Non Executive Director of Zenith Bank plc since June 16, 2014, as well as that of Quantum Luxury Properties Limited. He serves as a Director of Africa Finance Corporation and a holder of the National Honours  of Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR).


Folorunsho Alakija

Mrs. Folorunso Alakija is a Nigerian businesswoman, one of the richest African women and also one of the richest black women in the world. In 2014 she unseated Oprah Winfrey as the richest woman of African descent in the world.  She is a business tycoon involved in oil and gas, fashion and printing.

She is the group Managing Director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited, Digital Reality Prints Limited and the Executive Vice-Chairman of Famfa Oil Limited.

Mrs.  Alakija is ranked by Forbes, as the richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion as of 2015. She is listed as the second most powerful woman in Africa and the 87th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

Folorunsho started her career in 1974 as an Executive Secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. She moved on to the former First National Bank of Chicago, the defunct  FinBank now acquired by FCMB (First City Monument Bank)[8] where she worked for some years before establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches. It rose to prominence and fame within a few years.

In May 1993, Folorunsho applied for the allocation of an oil prospecting license (OPL).

The license to explore for oil on a 617,000-acre block—now referred to as OPL 216—was granted to Alakija’s company, Famfa Limited. The block is located approximately 220 miles south east of Lagos and 70 miles offshore of Nigeria in the Agbami Field of the Central Niger Delta. In September 1996, she entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Texaco) and appointed the company as a technical adviser for the exploration of the license, transferring 40 percent of her 100 percent stake to Star Deep. Subsequently, Star Deep sold off 8 percent of its stake in OPL 216 to Petrobras, a Brazilian company. On 9 March 2016 she became the first female Chancellor (Osun State University) in Nigeria.