Motivational Personality of the Week- Otunba Michael Adenuga

  1. Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr (popularly known as Otunba Mike Adenuga) was born on 29 April 1953, in Ibadan. His father, Oloye Michael Agbolade Adenuga Sr, was a school teacher while his mother, Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga (née Onashile, of Okesopin, Ijebu Igbo), was a businesswoman of royal Ijebu descent.
  2. Adenuga attended Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan for his secondary school education, and Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro, for his Higher School Certificate (HSC). When he was in his late teens, Adenuga left the shores of Nigeria to study Business Administration at Northwestern University and Pace University in the United States. As an undergrad international student, the young Adenuga was already exploring ways of earning additional income. He took up a job as a taxi driver and worked as a security guard at night to pay his way through school.
  3. After acquiring his business degrees in the United States, he returned back home to Nigeria and inherited a small Sawmill operation from his father, a former schoolteacher who equally doubled as a small-scale entrepreneur. Adenuga worked at the sawmill but at the same time ventured into commodity trading and the importation of lace materials. It was through these diverse business concerns that he made his first million at the age of 26 and built the foundation for one of Africa’s largest privately held conglomerates – and personal fortunes.
  4. While most people are only aware of his brilliant achievements in mobile technology, Adenuga’s success in the telecom business was foreshadowed by his groundbreaking achievements in the construction, oil and banking sectors.
  5. When he was in his twenties, Adenuga ventured into the construction business. Leveraging on his personal relationships with influential military officers, he was able to get lucrative government construction contracts, which he executed satisfactorily. He soon built a reputation for quality service and prompt delivery and earned the trust of several top-ranking government officials. It was not long before Adenuga cemented his position as a top government contractor, and bigger contracts followed.
  6. As his construction business blossomed, Adenuga began scouting for more adventurous and sophisticated business opportunities. In 1989, he applied for a banking license and founded Devcom Bank, one of Nigeria’s earliest merchant banks. A year later, he founded Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB), which has grown to become one of the country’s most successful commercial banks. In 2005, following a Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s directive that required all banks to raise their capital base to N25 billion, Adenuga merged ETB with Devcom to meet the new recapitalization requirements. The merged banks adopted the Equitorial Trust Bank name, and for a while it was one of the largest banks in Nigeria before he opted to sell it off in 2011 to Sterling Bank, a commercial bank in Nigeria.
  7. In 1991, Adenuga’s oil exploration company, Conoil Producing Limited, made history when it became the first indigenous company to strike crude oil in commercial quantities at a time indigenous companies with oil blocks were selling off to foreign investors. Conoil Producing is now one of Nigeria’s largest indigenous oil companies with at least 6 producing deep offshore assets and daily production of 100,000 barrels per day.
  8. In 2000, in the wake of a government-engineered privatization exercise, Adenuga also acquired a controlling stake in National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company Plc (NOLCHEM), a petroleum marketing company. At the time Adenuga acquired the shares, NOLCHEM was a shadow of itself. The company was on the verge of bankruptcy; its stock was trading at an all-time low, and several of its retail outlets were dysfunctional at best. Within a year, Adenuga turned around the fortunes of the company. NOLCHEM, which Adenuga subsequently renamed Conoil PLC is now one of Nigeria’s largest petroleum marketers. Conoil has over 300 retail outlets spread across Nigeria and is one of the top dogs at the Nigerian Stock Exchange. The company has a market capitalization in the region of $200 million.
  9. Adenuga’s venture in telecoms began in January 2001, when the Nigerian government conducted an auction for 5 Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) provisional licenses and invited bids from institutional investors and individuals. Adenuga was one of the bidders, and through his company, Communications Investment Limited (CIL) – a special purpose vehicle, he bid for one of the licenses, which cost a pricey $285 million apiece. A month later, after paying a $20 million mandatory deposit, Adenuga was awarded a provisional license and was given a 14-day deadline to raise the balance of $265 million. For some reasons, Adenuga failed to meet his obligations and consequently lost his $20 million deposit in that ill-fated transaction.
  10. As fate would have it, a year later the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) invited bids for the Second National Operator (SNO) license. Adenuga paid another $20 million mandatory deposit fee for the license. This time around he won the license. Ironically, the SNO license gave him a broader range of options, as Globacom was given the right to operate as a national carrier, operate digital mobile lines, serve as international gateway for telecommunications in the country and operate fixed wireless access phones.
  11. One of the first services Globacom offered its Nigerian subscribers was the cheaper option of Per Second Billing (PSB), rather than the ‘per-minute’ model other mobile network providers had traditionally adopted. Experts had severally warned that the PSB model was too risky, too soon, and definitely unprofitable. But Adenuga proved them wrong. When Globacom launched the PSB on August 29, 2003, it caught on like wildfire. Nigerians rushed to the network in droves and other networks were forced to follow suit. Since then, Globacom has, through its various subsidiaries, pioneered several innovative services in Nigeria such as Mobile Internet, Blackberry subscription and Vehicle Tracking services. Globacom currently has operations in Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic and Cote d’Ivoire and is arguably the fastest-growing telecoms operation in Africa with an active subscriber base in excess of 20 million as at the end of 2010.
  12. The serial entrepreneur launched a foundation in his name to focus on entrepreneurship development, education, health and rural development. One of the programmes offered by Mike Adenuga Foundation is the Mike Adenuga Fellowship programme. The foundation awards undergraduate scholarships, postgraduate and research fellowships, to educationally gifted Africans who desire to contribute to development on the continent, and who have the potential to become innovators and development drivers in their chosen fields.
  13. Not a lot of information about the philanthropic activities of the Mike Adenuga Foundation is made available to the public. However, one particular donation of N500 million was made by the organization in aid of helping victims of a flood that happened in Bayelsa, a state in Southern Nigeria.
  14. Otunba Mike Adenuga is the second richest billionaire in Nigeria and fifth in Africa based on the Forbes’ African billionaires list of 2018. As of 2017, according to Forbes, he was worth $5.8 billion and married to Titi Joyce Adenuga.


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