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69 Amazing Things About Billionaire, Otunba MIKE ADENUGA

Even if the Colossus of Rhodes had breathe, he could possibly not hold a candle to this Pride of Africa, a jewel of inestimable value to an entire nation of people. Otunba (Dr) Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr. is the real deal. He is more than a colossus as he straddles this landscape, far above the stratosphere, akin to a baldachin beyond the horizon, over the reaches of multiple continents of our planet and its oceans.

He is indeed an atypical man. Only a few of them come along in a lifetime. A man who has no room for second place or participation trophies, who never says, never as the word “impossible” is not in his dictionary. A juggernaut of business enterprise.

As he turned 69, there have been an overwhelming efflux of adulation from far and near, across the globe, not just from family and business partners but those who have drank from his spring of wisdom and as well as beneficiaries of  his milk of kindness.

 Interestingly, according to numerologists, the number 69 is a special one. It represents creativity and it is also magical. You don’t have to believe in numerology. But the similarities are uncanny.

Apparently a man wise beyond his years, Otunba Adenuga made his first million at the age of 26 while selling lace and distributing drinks.

This business juggernaut was barely 36 years old when he established his first bank, Devcom Bank, which was registered on 9th June 1981. His second bank, Equatorial Trust Bank was founded just barely seven months later on January 1990. That was three months before his 37th birthday. Hence, he owned two banks before his 37th birthday. No doubt the stuff of legends.

Prior to the establishment of his banks, Dr. Adenuga founded Consolidated Oil Limited at the age of 31 in 1984. It was a vehicle at that point to help the Nigerian Petroleum Corporation in hauling cargo to multifarious destinations.

Consolidated Oil Limited was later to play a major role in the history of the country after it was used by the extraordinarily industrious businessman as a vehicle to acquire a license for the exploration of oil in Nigeria. This was after the federal government opened it up for individuals.

Interestingly, the guru as he is fondly referred to as by friends and business partners was actually introduced to then Minister for Petroleum, Alhaji Aminu Jibril by his (Jibril’s) personal assistant. This kick-started the process of the acquisition of his oil block.

Dr Adenuga insisted on acquiring a particular oil block, about 60 kilometres North of Okititupa in Ondo State to the consternation of the minister. This was because experts were doubtful that there would be any recoverable oil there. The reluctance of the minister to assign him that oil block was out of some kind of sympathy that the young man could just waste his money. But he persisted like a man who was sure what side his bread was buttered.

But Otunba Adenuga smells success even when he is asleep. He insisted on that oil block against the advice of experts in the oil industry, even professional geologists could not see as far as the guru who is reputed to be an encyclopedia of knowledge. They couldn’t fathom this audacious quest.

It was the first time that Adenuga ever disobeyed Mama. A sage was actually right in pointing out to him that oil exploration was like “kalo kalo” that he would probably be better off selling the license and keeping his profits and reinvesting, just like some others who were granted licenses at that time. But he is unlike the others, never retreating from a battle, until he wins. And win he must. The prayer of every parent is that their children be greater than they are. After the outcome, Mama was proud of his beloved son and was thankful to the almighty for answering prayers.

Apart from the amount paid for the license and the oil block itself, Otunba Adenuga paid $100, 000 daily in 1991 to the operators of the oil rig, exploring for oil. As the days went by, the funds kept depleting and the experts were not even sure. But Dr Adenuga kept on with the positive vibes.

It was the best Christmas gift of his life as oil was struck in the early hours of December 25 1991. As soon as the Oil rig engineer confirmed the presence of oil and shouted “Eureka”, he told Adenuga that he is indeed a lucky man. He never knew when he fell on his knees. He almost fell overboard while dancing. He celebrated the moment with the best of Champagne.

Thus, Dr Adenuga, in 1990, became the first man to explore oil in commercial quantity in Nigeria, thereby singlehandedly helping to increase Nigeria’s oil reserve, tremendously. The federal government and indeed Nigeria benefitted immensely from his effort and the minister’s “sympathy” tuned into awe. What a man!

Meanwhile, for someone that was at the nascent stage of petroleum exploration, many professionals were astonished that Dr Adenuga already knew very much about the industry, to the point that he interpreted complex petrophysics and seismic data. Geologists were simply amazed.

Adenuga commemorated this epoch-making event of December 25th 1991 by making souvenirs of oil, sealed in a crystal. He gave this out to everyone who worked on the project, as well as friends and well-wishers.

Dr Michael Adenuga Jr. remains the biggest indigenous player in the oil business in Nigeria to this day.

In 2001, Adenuga’s Celullar Investment Limited (CIL) was one of the operators granted licenses by the Nigeria Communications Commission. However, CIL was later discovered that the frequency spectrum assigned to it was litigious. It was being used by motorhome at that point. Careful not to be ensnared by the litigation by motorhome, CIL placed a condition for the payment for the license which the government subsequently rejected. It was foresight characteristic of a business guru.

Otunba Apesin of Ijebuland and indeed Nigerians waited patiently for two years and it paid off in spades. He was subsequently granted another license through Globacom as the Second National Operator, putting it technically ahead of all the other operators.

Many people may not know that Dr Adenuga never used a GSM phone even after it was introduced in 2001. He waited until Globacom was granted a license in 2003, and after rolling out his network.

Always the trailblazer, Globacom rolled out its network in August 2003 on a per-second billing platform. This was after the other networks claimed that it could be another 5 years for Nigeria to be ripe enough for a per-second billing platform. This was huge

You must have heard or read somewhere that Dr Adenuga is sometimes referred to as Mr Per-second Billing. He was christened by then Minister for Communications, Chief Cornelius Adebayo after Globacom rolled out on that platform. Nigerians were elated. So was the minister.

The social launch of the Glo network took place at Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island, Lagos in August 2003, after the media launch at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in, Ikeja Lagos. The Guru beamed with smiles throughout the event. He did it again. Finally, the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians was met, courtesy an indigenous network. This occasioned the slashing of not just calls rates, but the entry points for new customers across the country.

While the other operators rolled out their networks on 2G infrastructure, Glo rolled out on 2.5G, ensuring that it was the first operator to introduce GPRS in the country, enabling a myriad of GPRS based value-added services. It took the other operators years to play catchup.

As the other operators dawdled along after the acquisition of 3G licenses in 2008, Globacom was the first out of the gate, bringing to Nigerians the benefit of the new platform. Voice, video and data at superlative speed.

Remember the years of the ubiquitous Blackberry device? Adenuga’s Glo was the first to introduce the service into the country in 2006. This was followed by some superlative advert campaign which lives in the memory. There were captions like “Blackberry: The revolutionary tool for the big boys”.

The guru became the first man in the world to singlehandedly lay a submarine fibre-optic cable with the laying of the Glo1 submarine cable between Europe and Africa, through the Atlantic Ocean. 

The idea of a submarine cable was conceptualized when he was on a business trip to France. It was during a meeting with the chief executive officer of Alcatel when he made a call to Nigeria. The call wasn’t as clear as he would have wanted and he asked the Alcatel chief about a solution. He was told that the ultimate solution is a submarine. He said, lay me a submarine cable. The Alcatel man looked at him in disbelief. Never has an individual financed a submarine cable. The rest is history, my friends.

You may already know about his interest in the banking, oil and gas industry but not many people know that he plays a very big in the real estate sector. He does not just own numerous properties in Nigeria but around the world. In fact, he has offices on several continents of the world.

He loves good music, especially African high life music and listens to the music of legends like Victor Uwaifo, E.T Mensah, Osita Osadebe and Rex Lawson. Despite his very tight schedule, he is always on the lookout for new releases in African highlife.

He is a super fan of I.K Dairo. We gathered that as a kid, he was never tired of listening to the music of the maestro. He would wait by the radio, just to hear the music of I.K Dairo. He has been a benefactor to the younger Dairo, Paul Play, who confirmed the assistance he received when he was ill. His relationship with the legendary Evangelist Ebenezer Obey and King Sunny Ade and his love for their music is an open secret. Give him their music every day.

Did you know that while he was schooled in the United States of America, he worked as a taxi driver to sustain himself? This was when he was a student at Northwestern Oklahoma State University.

A lover of arts and a great collector, Otunba Adenuga bought the trumpet of the great musician, Hugh Masekela at an auction during a charity concert for homeless children in Ghana. That was over 20 years ago.

He is the only Nigerian and indeed African, who holds the highest civilian honours in three countries having been conferred upon with the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger in Nigeria, Companion of the Star of Ghana and Commander of the order of the Legion by France. During the celebration of Nigeria’s Golden Jubilee, he was one of the distinguished personalities conferred with the Special Golden Jubilee Independence Awards. Dr Michael Adenuga Jr. is easily the most decorated Nigerian today. His awards are in several multiples of his age.

 He is a bull. You must have noticed the statue of a bull in front of the Mike Adenuga Towers. His Zodiac Sign is Taurus the Bull and you can be sure he lives in that Zodiac sign. He is the bull of corporate Nigeria, indeed Africa. Dr Adenuga has this special connection to the Ancient City of Ibadan. He signs off his correspondence with his Ibadan address. He was not only born in Ibadan, he attended secondary school there- at the famous Ibadan Grammar School.

One fact unknown to a lot of people about Dr Mike Adenuga Jr. is that he is very good in languages. He is not only good in several dialects of his native Yoruba Language, when he speaks Igbo words, for instance, but you will also be shocked at the diction. A gifted learner, he is multilingual.

Since the launch of Globacom in 2003, Dr Adenuga has given out a lot of prizes back to the customers, including houses, cars and other properties. He is a man who rewards loyalty handsomely. Those who have been lucky to come across him only have good stories to tell.

He is a super-recognizer, He has this uncanny ability to recognize the faces of a sizeable number of people, even in a crowd. In his companies that employ thousands of staff, he recognizes faces effortlessly, including those at the lower rung of the echelon.

Since the completion of the Glo1 submarine cable several years ago, Globacom has practically dictated the rates of data in Nigeria. Data rates have been slashed multiple folds as a result. No wonder Globacom had earned the moniker, Grandmasters of data.

Believe it or not, Dr Mike Otunba Adenuga Jr, being the polymath that he is, voices over a number of Globacom commercials. He does the job even better than the professionals as his distinct, mellifluous voice is golden.

This space will simply not be enough to discuss his philanthropic activities. He is currently Nigeria’s numero uno philanthropist by a long shot. There is no doubt that his act of charity cannot be encapsulated in one book, let alone an edition of your favourite magazine. For Example, during the early days of Covid 19, through the Mike Adenuga Foundation, he contributed N500 million to the Lagos State Government and N1 Billion to the federal government to help to fight the pandemic and the attendant relief effort. The list of his good deeds is endless. He might not go out much but did you know that he knows every nook and cranny of town than you do? Mention that “joint” where they sell amala anywhere in town and he would describe it for you. Magical, you may say.

He has singlehandedly sustained the Nigerian entertainment sector for several years both directly and indirectly through sponsorship of different projects, including the signing on of brand ambassadors. Globacom signs more ambassadors in one year than other companies in their entire existence. A lover of culture, Dr Adenuga has been the major sponsor of the Ojude Oba Festival, hosted by the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Adetona for about 17 years. He also sponsors the Ofala Festival, hosted by the Obi of Onitsha

Doyen of creativity, imagination and novelty, be sure that the wonderful idea that you have has already gone through the mind of Otunba Adenuga. Quick-witted, he already harbours a better version of your idea. This is one of the reasons he is who he is.

Did you also know that he is not just a good driver, he used to drive around town by himself. An automobile collector, he has had a good feel of handling his vehicles himself. Such an enigma, you may say.

One interesting fact about the style of communication of this astute icon of enterprise is that sometimes, instead of using commanding language, he asks them a simple question like – “can I ask you to work on this project”? or “can I ask you to come back tomorrow?” The answer of the staff to that kind of question from the guru could be as good as mine. It is a rhetorical flourish.

One of his best phrases is the interjection, “yes sir”. You might have noticed this in some of his rare public speeches. He says this before some sentences. It is his unique way of stressing his words. Powerful.

If there were 48 hours in a day, Otunba could likely still work for almost all of those 48 hours. This is a man who meets with business partners until late at night, yet he wakes up early enough to meet with staff very early in the morning.

We have inferred that while a lot of people are governed by the maxim which goes, “you win some, you lose some”, for Dr Michael Adenuga Jr, it should be “you win some, you win some”. Losing is never an option for him. It never is.

Indeed there have been far more than 69 amazing facts on these pages, yet we are still superficially scratching the surface, just like the Forbes list of billionaires which is unable to decipher him to rank him accurately. He is on another level entirely, far beyond the reaches of Forbes.

This goes to show this adroit behemoth of unqualifiable intellectual capacity will remain with us here for the next several decades to come, doing what he knows how to do the best – leading, achieving and winning. Yes Sir!



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