An Audacious Entrepreneur with Larger-than-life Personality
An Audacious Entrepreneur with Larger-than-life Personality
Otunba (Dr) Mike Adenuga, Jnr., (GCON), is a household name in Africa’s businessworld. Many scholars and pundits, employing their own different prisms of understanding have tried to explain this entrepreneurial colossus to humanity, albeit unsatisfactorily. Books have been written about him. Countless of articles have been articulated in effort to elucidate this special creature to us. In the court of public opinion there have been discussions, debates and even arguments as regards what this economic genius represents. Different versions of stories about his successes told, yet none is encompassing enough to unearth the Holy Grail propelling his greatness. The reticent nature of this dollar-denominated billionaire creates an ambience of mystery around his name, of which portrays him as a still water that runs deep.
As Dr Mike Adenuga, Jr., makes inroads into the world of septuagenarian with his 70th birthday, it presents another golden opportunity to continue the quest to unravel this quintessential entrepreneur and his sterling attributes to the world. No single title captures his whole essence. No amount of encomium is enough to evince his magnanimity. The name you call him is a function of what you have come to understand about him. Several monikers, including Iroko of Africa, The Bull, The Guru, Father of Philanthropy, Oracle of Generosity, and The Spirit of Africa, are phrases and paraphrases invented by intellectuals researching on his unique personality, to juxtapose it with his landmark achievements. He is a shrewd investor and reclusive billionaire who has not only mastered the art of wealth creation but has defeated the lure of ostentatious lifestyle. He is a paragon of wealth via enterprise.
Chairman of Africa’s only solely-owned telecommunications provider and Nigeria’s first indigenous GSM company with over fifth million subscribers, with diversed investments in other key sectors of the economy like oil, gas, banking, real estate, Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jr., has become one-man economic behemoth to the extent that his enormous wealth is most times undervalued and underestimated by Forbes and its likes. His business conglomerate has grown vast and expansive, with its economic impacts reaching far-flunged areas which makes it difficult—if not impossible, for a single human being to wrap his mind around what this investment guru has built in the last few decades of soaring on the wings of excellence, powered by resiliency. No wonder a school of thought opined that greatness is excellence repeated over the years. It is a journey not a destination.
In furtherance of this context, I will like to draw inference from an Indian myth called “Elephant and the blind men.” A long time ago some blind men lived in a village in India. The men had heard stories about elephants from other villagers to the point of curiosity. In order to have a mental picture of what an elephant was like, one day the villagers arranged for the men to visit the palace and have first-hand experience of an elephant for themselves. On getting to elephant’s abode, each of the blind men approached, and then touched the part of the animal that was closest to them. The first man felt the elephant’s side and screamed: “Oh, of course! The elephant is just a wall!”
The second man touched the elephant’s tusk and said: “The elephant is like a spear.” There came the third man who happened to be closest to its leg. He put his hand on the elephant’s leg and shouted: “Now I understand it perfectly! It is a tree.” The fourth man was tall and reached for the elephant’s ear: “The elephant is a like a huge fan.” The fifth man was only able to grasp the elephant’s tail, he said: “Anyone with a sense of touch would understand that the elephant is just like a rope.” Lesson of the story: Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jr., is that mythical elephant that no scholar has been able to grasp cum figure out comprehensively his invincibility and gargantuan nature. You can only try to define the part of him that you have been opportuned and privileged to experience. This is having a larger-than-life image.
Those in the private sector who have witnessed his wit and grit in business management, describe him as—The Guru. Analysts interested in boardroom politics who have seen his calculated moves, bold ideas and uncanny mastery displayed in the chessboard of investing, nicknamed him—The Bull. Keen minds who understand the wide range of his influence and affluence across the continent of Africa bestowed on him: “The Iroko of Africa”. He has attained olympian height yet maintains touch with those at the pedestrian level. He sits in his palatial home in Banana Island—Villa Adenuga—famous Bellissima on the waterfront, the most magnificent private home owned by a businessman in West Africa, yet pull strings across Africa’s economic stratosphere, and beyond. His name epitomises his aura. You can feel his impact without seeing him. His invincibility cum reclusivity vindicates those who honour him as “The Spirit of Africa”.
Even in giving back to the society, the Ijebu-born billionaire does it in a unique way that dazzes the benefiting individual, group, organisation or community. He has redefined the standard of philanthropy in Africa with his humongous and numerous acts of generosity. He is not given to showingness and self-glorification. As an apostle of secret giving; the unseen hands that transform lives of many, he has transcended from being just a creator of wealth with a heart of gold, to a humanitarian dedicated to serving humanity. No one encounters Father of philanthropy and remains the same. It could be the reason some opinion influencers reference him as Oracle of Generosity. In fact, at the risk of exaggeration, Chief Adenuga’s unparalleled and unprovoked acts of philanthropy have earned the Adenugas so much goodwill that can last up to third to fourth generations.
Once an importer, contractor and later entrepreneur, who began making millions in his early twenties. His educational voyage took him from Ibadan Grammar School, Oyo State, to Northwestern State University, Oklahoma to Pace University, New York, were he bagged his first degree and masters, respectively. His adventure in the businessworld has seen him rise to apex of entrepreneurship and investing. His conglomerate comprising Globacom, Conoil Producing, Conoil Plc, Cobblestones Properties, etc., have created wealth, values and jobs both for himself and Africans. He has put the country in Africa’s map of entrepreneurship. Imagine Nigerian economy without Dr. Mike Adenuga, Jr.
As he celebrates his 70th anniversary on earth, posterity will forever be fair to him for his patriotic role in gifting Nigerians mobile lines, by making it affordable and accessible. GSM debuted in the country in 2001. Before then, we had paltry 400,000 active telephone lines. The two legacy GSM operators who were hitherto licenced held Nigerians to ransom with expensive lines and per minute billing system. Owning a mobile line was a status symbol until the game-master—Dr Mike Adenuga, Jr., decided to throw his hat into the ring. On August, 2003, Globacom—Nigeria’s first indigenous mobile operator was born, with an ambitious mission statement: “To be the largest, most successful entertainment, information and telecommunications solutions provider, in Nigeria and Africa.”
Globacom did not only become the game-changer but via innovative prowess, disrupted the market, raised the bar—inadvertently and advertently, began what has been later christened telecom revolution in Nigeria. When legacy mobile operators insisted that per second billing system was not economically practicable at the moment, and covertly held Nigerians at oligopolistic jugular of duopoly, Globacom—like a rampaging bull driving the renaissance, broke the jinx and pioneered per second billing in the country. This became the magic wand that set the ball rolling.
The subsequent crash of cost of SIMs and calls from N20,000 and N50 per a minute, respectively, to as low as N200 and 5 Kobo per second, ensured that more Nigerians—who were hitherto unable to own SIMs cum mobile phones, could afford them with the corresponding services. Nigerians were bitten by the bug of Glo vis-a-vis mobile phone services. In a chain reaction, massive demands for mobile network connectivity began across the country. Globacom was at the forefront of this technological revolution and one man envisioned and brought this bold idea to reality, for the collective interest of Nigerians.
Adenuga’s biggest philanthropic gesture to Nigerians, was floating Globacom Limited, which made it easier for the masses to have access to GSM services. As he swims in the euphoria of his 70th birthday anniversary. May God continue to bless him for being a blessing to humanity. 70 gun salute to the Iroko of Africa! May God bless the day he was born.
Nwobodo writes from Abuja via firstname.lastname@example.org.
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