Mike Adenuga At 70: A Book To Inspire Our Youths
Exactly 70 years today, Africa’s business guru and entrepreneur extraordinaire, Dr. Mike Adenuga, GCON, came into the world via Adeoyo Hospital, Ibadan, born to Pa Michael Agbolade Adenuga, an educationist and his entrepreneurial wife, Mama Oyindamola whose business genes and can-do attitude the baby will inherit and go on to extraordinarily conquer the world of business.
The arrival of Mike brought unparalleled joy to the Adenuga family. According to Mrs. E.O. Osunsade, Mike Adenuga’s late eldest sister, their parents who got married in 1937 for a long time did not have a boy. “It took roughly ten years after marriage that the first boy, Demola, came,” she told me while interviewing her for a book on his famous younger brother. “For them, having a second son (Mike) made them very happy. I don’t know why. Prior to that, my mother had lost some pregnancies. Actually, Mike came in as a gift at a point they were trying to end having children. My father decided to name him after himself. My father’s name was Mike Agbolade. His son’s name is Michael Adeniyi. As the last child, he was given some extra care than we had. I remember him as a charming, chubby handsome young man.”
Judging from the monumental successes Mike Adenuga, the founder of the Nigerian telecoms brand glo has made and the fact that he owned two banks while still in his 30s, some influential Nigerians think it’s high time Mike Adenuga invited a good biographer –just like Steve Jobs did by inviting one of my mentors: Walter Isaacson, a former editor of TIME magazine and CNN top shot—to objectively capture the story of his life with a view to publishing it into a book that would inspire Nigerian youths to follow in his footsteps and using his success strategies to become the next Mike Adenuga.
Nigeria’s former military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida said such a book is long overdue. “I am sure it would provide a treasure trove of ideas from a man with the Midas touch who has a lot to teach our youths today that hard work, persistence, creativity and above all, integrity pays,” General Babangida told me in his home in Minna. “He is not just a good businessman, he is a good man with a good heart. He is blessed by God with vision, wisdom, riches and compassion. The world needs more Mike Adenuga.”
Doc, with heart failure am I about to die?
Dr. Seyi Roberts, Harvard-trained neurologist who was Mike’s best friend at Ibadan Grammar School says: “Mike Adenuga’s story is a lesson for young people. And the lesson is that it doesn’t matter where you come from, if you work harder and you are persistent, you can become another Mike Adenuga in future.”
Femi Akinrinade was Adenuga’s first-ever business partner when they were involved in constructing the Army School of Artillery in Kachia, Kaduna among some other military projects around 1977. They had known each as students in America. “Even in his early days as a student in America, you could see signs of his future greatness,” Akinrinade recalls. “You could see it even in him then in his younger days that this one is going to go far. Because once he takes a decision on something, he goes ahead to do it. He is the only friend and a brother I know that has never asked me for a favour. Even when you talk about his background and relate it with having to drive taxis in America—his dad was a schoolteacher, his mum was a big-time trader and among his friends, when they were growing up, he was always the one with the money to spend on friends.”
“A book on Mike Adenuga,” Akinrinade continues, “if you can research it very well, you will see the story of a small boy, growing up in Ibadan, who went to America in search of the Golden Fleece. He goes to the US and over the years, he was able to sort himself out and build himself into a situation where he can come back and use the knowledge. He came back and instead of taking a job, right from the onset, decided to do business and is able to move from zero to hero. Children should get the opportunity to read about it and be inspired by it. Because sometimes when we sit down with our kids and tell them what we went through and the way things used to be, they laugh and say: ‘Daddy, this is a fictional story you are telling us. It is not possible.’ My children were born in England, they went to school in England, they attended university there. It is very difficult to believe a lot of things that went on. So if such kids can have the opportunity to read a factual story of a man like Mike Adenuga who struggled through odds to be where he is today, then it might be an inspiration to them that they can do it too.”
Dr. Yemi Ogunbiyi, another friend of Adenuga from their days in America says: “A book on Mike Adenuga is long overdue. Mike is an important Nigerian figure. There is no question about that. Any country that has a man like Mike Adenuga must be particularly proud of him. He has done so much for this country. His investments alone are enormous. No Indian government would allow one of its key entrepreneurs to go through the rubbish that Mike Adenuga went through (leading to his going on self-exile). They would protect him to the very end. But ours is a country where if you do well, it becomes a problem. I think Mike is a pride, not just for his generation but for our times and to our country. He has invested so much here. He could have taken his business out of Nigeria and go somewhere else, but I think he loves his country. Mike deserves to be celebrated. Anytime, anywhere.”
On that note, let me join the world in wishing the great Mike Adenuga happy 70th birthday. May you live long on earth in good health. And may your legacies outlive you.
– The Sun –