• Tuesday, May 21, 2024
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Adenuga @71: Salute to the quintessential billionaire

Adenuga @71: Salute to the quintessential billionaire

By Lanre Buari

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”- Mother Teresa.

This famous saying of Mother Teresa aptly describes Dr. Michael Adeniyi Adenuga Jr, chairman of Nigeria’s national telecommunications company, Globacom who clocks 71 years on April 29. Adenuga spreads love and always makes people who come in contact with him happy.

Right from the onset, the young Mike has remained focused and determined to excel. He was also an elegant and trendy dude, earning him the nickname “Aneye Tonto”. Today, after many years of hard work and dedication, he is one of Africa’s richest men, an entrepreneur par excellence and a philanthropist.

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Adenuga took the bull by the horns very early in life, such that after his university in the United States of America, he moved into business through exportation and contracting. In his early 30s, he had conquered this sector and moved into banking where he established two formidable banks.

After a few years, he moved again and the destination was the oil and gas industry where he berthed with the oil giant – Conoil, which operates in the upstream and downstream sectors. Within a few years, he led the company to success and moved again. This time, Adenuga’s destination was the telecoms industry.

In 2003, Adenuga who just marked his 50th birthday, added Globacom to the list of his companies and within a year, he was already sitting atop what is generally regarded as one of the continent’s largest business empires, comprising oil and gas, telecoms, aviation, banking and real estate.

Dr. Adenuga moulded each of his companies into a major player in their sectors. In the oil and gas sector, for instance, 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. The same was the case when he had two banks, Equatorial Trust Bank and Devcom Merchant Bank which were operating at the top echelon of Nigeria’s banking industry.

His telecoms company, Globacom remains the most innovative network in Nigeria, with many firsts since it rolled out services in 2003. His investment in real estate is said to be worth billions of dollars. These companies provide direct employment to thousands of Nigerians and other nationalities.

Adenuga is no doubt one of the wealthiest men in the world. What however may not be well known is the driving force behind this business phenomenon. A sneak preview of this can be seen from his postulations on “Achieving” dated April 29, 1993, on his 40th birthday.

Some of the masterfully crafted business bible bear recalling:

Adenuga said, “Achieving is a thing of resolve and persistence.” “It is the state of attaining success as a goal through sustained consistency. The achiever is a leader, a winner, all the time, not just once. Achieving is an attitude.”

He added: “Leading the pack is the only worthwhile resolution for the achiever. There is no room for second place. It is often said that it is not the winning that counts, but the participation. This adage does not reflect an achieving attitude. It is not the mere participant, but the achiever, the winner, the leader who makes the difference that advances the course of humankind in the judgement of history”.

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He continues: “High profile corporate game playing is an arena where the pervading zeal is on achieving in every single endeavour: to be the first, and always the first; to be the one who holds the aces that determine the pace of play. You do not enter the arena to depend on luck. You match your wits against others, with your entire constitution springing to action. Every fibre from the innermost recesses of your being to the fore, becomes combative in a synchronised zeal to achieve. With this strategy, you’re never going to come off the arena a loser”.

Adenuga also gave explanations on how to successfully run a business: “Essentially, running a business is similar to leading a military operation or orchestrating a political campaign, or performing as a great athlete. The fundamental principles are the same. The overriding objective is to outmanoeuvre the opposing forces; to outsmart the other party; to out-perform the competition; to outwit the other guy – to achieve. This may sound harsh. But that is the way it is”.

Counselling entrepreneurs on how to achieve success, Adenuga stated that entrepreneurs must engage the best hands, those with a competitive spirit and winning attitude. No wonder then that Adenuga pays special attention to the recruitment process in his companies: “Success is the goal of every business, and the most successful businesses engage the most competitive men. They are there to compete – to savour the grind and brutal discipline of epic combat – and to achieve”.

City People Magazine, Nigeria’s number one soft-sell magazine also highlighted Dr. Adenuga’s lifestyle and business style. City People said:

“Otunba Mike Adenuga is an enigma. He is an unconventional man, who does unconventional things. He is not your regular rich man. He’s got class & style. He likes to be different. He loves to live a quiet and reserved lifestyle. He does not go out. He does not go to parties. He does not even attend functions staged by his company or family members. Whenever Glo holds an event, he rarely shows up. He has trusted aides. He has competent hands. He has a lot of expatriates working for him. His daughter, Bella, has effectively taken over the running of his group. In matters of policy, she takes all the critical decisions. They only go to him for a 2nd opinion. He has great trust in her. He properly groomed her. He made her pay her dues. Not only did she attend all the best schools, he got her involved in the day-to-day running of the family business. He made her understudy him.

He personally supervised her for about a decade before letting her climb to the penthouse where decisions are made. He has also trained his other children making them play crucial roles in his businesses. They have all come to understand him.

For you to survive around Otunba Mike Adenuga, you have to be smart, hardworking and straightforward. He likes brilliant people. He likes those who can stand on their feet. He likes those who think the impossible is possible. He does not take No for an answer. He does not like to hear that something is impossible. He likes people with the Can-Do spirit. He is like that himself.

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He works round the clock. He is always thinking of the next possible business deal. He is always looking for the next deal to close. He was one of the businessmen who saw the role data was going to play in our lives and went for a telecoms licence earlier. Today, the rest is history. He is now the Grandmaster of Data.

Mike Adenuga is one of the Bigger Boys in the world of business. He knows the game. He plays the game. He is adept at it. He knows the principle of winning. He has set his own rules. He has his winning formula, which has worked for him over the last 40 years. Though he is from Ijebu Igbo, he was born and bred in Ibadan. He will always tell all who cares to listen that he is an Ibadan Boy.

Happy birthday to the chairman of chairmen. May your days be long.


Buari is a Lagos-based media consultant.