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THE GURU TURNS 70 - HOW MIKE ADENUGA CAME, SAW AND CONTINUES TO CONQUER


In 2007, Otunba (Dr) Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr made a demand of Alcatel Lucent, Globacom’s equipment supplier. The Alcatel-Lucent boss, stared at him, mouth agape in transfixation as it was an uncommon proposition. It wasn’t even a supposition, yet it was made with a disposition of intellection, rather instantaneously. It was more than a simple extemporization. The guru as he is fondly called by friends for his astute business acumen, embodies an uncanny possession of cogitation at light speed. There, was the rationale behind the consternation of the Alcatel boss. And a degree of dubiety.
The Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) was in France on a business trip. While at a meeting with the Alcatel Lucent boss, he had cause to put a call through to Nigeria. Lamentably, the international call wasn’t as crispy and clear as he would love it to be. A perfectionist, he turned around towards the Alcatel boss to explore an alacritous ratiocinative solution to this technical inhibition that was prevalent at that point in time.
He was told, rather resignedly as if insurmountable, by the Alcatel boss that the best solution would be to lay an intercontinental submarine fibre optic cable to run from the continent of Europe to Africa. Undaunted, Adenuga replied, “lay me an intercontinental fibre optic cable”.  It was at this moment that Alcatel-Lucent's Chief Executive Officer gaped at this enigma of a man  in bewilderment,

Never before has an individual or single entity, singlehandedly contracted the laying of an intercontinental fibre optic cable anywhere in the world. “Does this man know what he is talking about?” the Alcatel boss must have thought. Contrariwise, it was the Alcatel boss that was lost to the occasion of this extraordinary human being. The Otunba Apesin of Ijubeland is an uncommon man that does common things.

Yet, to put things in perspective, the only intercontinental cable at that time to land in Nigeria from Europe, SAT 3 was owned by Nigeria and 33 other countries. Here was a man singlehandedly planning to do even more than those 34 countries did.  After the contract for this project known as Glo 1 was finalized, it took less than two years to become operational. The result was that Dr Mike Adenuga singlehandedly crashed the price of data in the most populous black nation on earth. Thanks to Glo1, Nigeria shot up on the world map in terms of Internet access and other operators were forced to crash prices to remain viable. This was a microcosm of the behemoth that is Dr Mike Adenuga.
When Shakespeare said hundreds of years ago that some people are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them, he presumably never envisaged that some people can be in all the categories. We mean people in the mold of Otunba (Dr) Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr. One great sign was that he was born on the 29th Day of April, just roughly a month after the vernal equinox, marking him as Taurus, the Bull. After the Vernal Equinox, the day gets longer and longer. No wonder he never tires of working. Perhaps this why he is a conqueror who achieves unimaginable feat with ease. No wonder he never loses a battle. 

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. He never does. You can be sure he lives his Zodiac sign. He is the bull of corporate Nigeria, indeed Africa. Let the statue of a bull in front of the Mike Adenuga Towers in Victoria Island always remind you of this.
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 visiting international business partners until late at night, yet wakes up early enough to meet with staff very early in the morning.

The 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 37. 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.

As a testament to the fact that he was not just born great, but achieved greatness and have greatness thrust upon him, Otunba Adenuga smells success even when he is asleep. He insisted on emptying his life savings on an oil block license against the advice of experts in the oil industry after he was granted an oil block in 1990. Even professional geologists could not see as far as the guru who is reputed to be an encyclopedia of knowledge. They couldn’t fathom his audacious quest.

It was the first time that he ever disobeyed his mother. Mama, a sage was probably right in pointing out to him that oil exploration was like “kalo kalo”. She suggested that he would probably be better off selling the license and reinvesting the profits. The prayer of every parent is that their children be greater than they are. He never budged and he was right on the money, Mama was ultimately proud of his beloved son and was thankful to the almighty for answered prayers. He became the first man to explore oil in commercial quantity in Nigeria, thereby singlehandedly helping to increase Nigeria’s oil reserve, tremendously. Nigeria benefitted immensely from this doggedness. Dr Michael Adenuga Jr. remains the biggest indigenous player in the oil business in Nigeria to this day. 


Indeed he revolutionized a revolution. Or what do you call what he did in 2003 during the nascent stages of the revolution in the telecommunications sector in Nigeria? It was a period when the phrase “we will never forget” should ring positive. 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 per-second billing platform. It is for this reason 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. Things were never the same again. Prices were forced down, including for starter packs and recharge cards.

While the other operators rolled out their networks on 2G infrastructure, Glo rolled out on 2.5G in August 2003, ensuring that it was the first operator to introduce GPRS in the country, enabling myriad of GPRS based value added services. It took the other operators years to catch up.
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.
Dr Mke Adenuga who holds France’s highest honour as the first Nigerian to be so decorated, plays a major role in the real estate sector. He does not just own numerous properties in Nigeria but around the world. In fact, he has offices and properties in several continents of the world. Dr Michael Adenuga Jr. is easily the most decorated Nigerian today. His awards are in several multiples of his age.

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, but when he speaks Igbo words for instance, you will 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 of recognizing faces of a sizeable number of people, even in a crowd. In his companies that employs thousands of staff, he recognizes faces effortlessly, including those at the lower rung of the echelon.

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 has singlehandedly sustained the Nigerian entertainment sector for several years both directly and indirectly through sponsorship of different projects, including the signing of brand ambassadors. Globacom signs more ambassadors in one year than other companies in their entire existence.
Just like the Alcatel boss was taken in awe, 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
Dr Mke Adenuga was born in Ibadan in 1953 to Oloye Michael Agbolade Adenuga amd Omoba Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga (nee Onashile ). His father was a school teacher while his mother was a renowned businesswoman of her time. The youngest of five children, the burial of his mother and reburial of his father in 2005 remains one of the most unique carnival-like funeral in this part of the world. It was an honour well deserved for parents that gave Africa this rare gem to conquer the world.

At 70, Otunba (Dr) Mike Adenuga looks much younger than his age, physically and mentally and does not seem like someone who can be slowed down by the gravity of age. According to sources, he is still as mentally alert as ever. Let us do this again when he turns 80, as he continues to conquer into future decades
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KELECHI OKORIE

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