If you mention Adenuga, and the next thing that comes to mind is Globacom (Global Communications). But is this well-fed African all about Glo? Worth a head-spinning $4.3 billion, Otunba (Dr.) Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga (Jnr) is the 2nd richest man in Nigeria, according to Forbes. That makes him the richest Yoruba on earth (I once wrote a piece on Deinde Fernandez but he has refused to disclose his assets).
This reclusive billionaire has one rule that no one can change: he will only get across to you when there is the need for it, but you cannot get across to him. And when he wants to get across to you, he does everything possible to track you down. Nobody in his office gets letters or invitation cards without earlier notice irrespective of where they originated from. You just can’t reach him, and if you work for a courier company, it is nearly-impossible for you to deliver a package to his office. You feel the swagger?
That was just an intro, let’s roll!
-Although his roots are in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, he was born in Ibadan, Oyo State on 29thApril, 1953. The Bull will turn 60 in about two months when his 682-paged biography Mike Adenuga: African Business Guru (written by award-winning Mike Awoyinfa & Dimgba Igwe) will be launched. Mike Adenuga was so big at birth that he was called John Bull in the hospital.
-His parents: Chief Michael Agbolade Adenuga Snr. was a school teacher while his mum Chief (Mrs.) Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga (nee Onashile of Okesopin, Ijebu Igbo) was a businesswoman. She got married at the age of 17, learnt sewing and succeeded greatly as a dressmaker. Well-educated, she was made the Iya Alaje of Ijebu-Igbo and the Yeye Oba of Ijebuland.
-He studied at the Ibadan Grammar School (IGS) before jetting out to the US to read Business Administration with a focus on Marketing. While at Ibadan, he was very impressed with the Cocoa House (then the tallest building in Africa) built by the Awolowo government. He dreamt of having such an edifice of his own one day, and today, we all know Mike Adenuga Towers. Located on Adeola Odeku Street, the 13-storey edifice which took him 13 years to erect dazzles with gold-on-granite finishing. You just can’t miss it! The first time I saw his building, I was mesmerized. It has a landing pad for a helicopter and was opened in 2004 by Atiku Abubakar. Now, don’t ask me if I want to build one too…lol! He also has a mansion in Ibadan and he named it ‘The Gold Digger’s Place’.
-The billionaire is a descendant of Pariola, a very wealthy and influential female trader born in the mid-19th century. Apart from being the ancestor of the Adenugas, Pariola would also produce the Adetonas, the family of the Awujale of Ijebuland, Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona.
-Upon his birth, his father was so overjoyed at having another son that he named him after himself. His elder brother, Demola explained that he was not given the name because as at the time of his birth, the fad was to bear purely Nigerian names. Otunba was the last child so his father took the opportunity to name him after himself. He would later die in 1993 in a car accident and his son did a superlative re-burial for him in 2005 with one of the most expensive coffins on earth.
-While at IGS, he and his brother (Demola) were nicknamed ‘Ad Belly’ for their huge stature and protruding bellies. Both used to cross the Ogunpa River (which they called River Jordan) whenever they felt like sneaking out of school. They took the huge frame after their parents. Demola was more of his dad while Mike took everything, including his business skills, from his mum. As a child, and under the supervision of his mum, he hawked goat feed, and picked up the street wisdom that came with it.
-Although Mike was more fashionable and even introduced his elder brother to the latest wears and perfumes, he still had to seek his help when it came to academic matters.
-There is something about Adenuga that caught my attention: he would never disobey his mother. The late matriarch had enormous influence over her son, and the only time he went against her directive was the oil business issue. Friends say that whenever there was any disagreement, just mention his mother’s name, and he would mellow down. Such was the degree of tremendous respect he has for his mother. #Iyaniwura