A billionaire for all seasons

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By Ebere Wabara

It is not necessarily true that you will live longer if you don’t drink, smoke, or chase women—it is the feeling that you get that matters. The poor tend to abuse such privileges which explains the good health of the one they call ‘The Guru.’ According to Ark Linkletter, there are four stages of man; infancy, childhood, adolescence…and obsolescence, but in the case of this icon, youthfulness characterizes his personage at 60.

Perhaps the greatest secret of the success profile of this boss of mine is that he does not believe in pleasing everyone. He does not care about what his hypercritics think of him and does not flow with the current. The mogul we are celebrating today, especially, and at other times has no immediate plans to retire from economic activism even as he begins the eventful journey to 70 and beyond. Did you know that at the age of 26, Dr. Michael Adeniyi Ishola Adenuga, Jr. was already a multi-millionaire by American standards? Dr. Adenuga laid the foundation for what he is today by learning the ropes from his late mother whom he cherished till her last breath.

He owes everything to her. Family members will intimate you to the fact that this Grand Commander was most loved and favoured of all his mother’s five children? And that the virtuous woman, in her heyday, imbued this last-born with entrepreneurial spirit. This multi-billionaire even at the age of 60 still looks so youthful that you will think the Adonis is just about 40! It has to do more with gracefulness than deep pocket. His dreams, vision and astounding entrepreneurship are unparalleled in this part of the world. Were you aware that this colossus was a director in the old Newswatch weekly newsmagazine before the brusque intervention and acquisition by Barrister Ibrahim Jimoh? Did you know that with the Big Boss, there is no dull moment and life must be lived to the fullest? His fountain of compassion and philanthropy is an ocean that never dries?

His generosity is confounding? He does not segregate on grounds of religion, ethnicity, gender or class? All those who have encountered him will readily confirm these. Did you also know that the oil and gas magnate hates people who are liars, thieves, irresponsible, lazy, unimaginative, unintelligent, timid, fraudulent and dirty? And profusely loves those on the converse? He loves to the extreme and hates beyond human comprehension! Dr. Adenuga loves good life, which explains why he is splashing more than N100 billion on his aristocratic home on Banana Island (Lagos) where he is neighbours with Alhaji Aliko Dangote Birds of a feather flock together! Virtually everything for the massive residential network of buildings is imported!

What do you expect from a man with paradisal taste? This is unimpeachable: he is the principal owner of Globacom Telecommunications Limited and is not fronting for anyone, as some people erroneously believe? Of course, there are institutional and individual investors, but he remains the core stakeholder. It may interest doubters to know that he has the capacity to embark on sole proprietorship of Globacom, but has in the profundity of his wisdom decided to be accommodative. It will eternally be on record that it was Dr. Adenuga’s bullish entry into the GSM industry that revolutionized Nigerians’ way of talking through the instrumentality of per-second billing, which MTN had intransigently and exploitatively insisted was not feasible! On the basis of this catalytic brand architecture, Glo deserves an outpouring of emotional affinity from one and all in this country.

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Rather, I see a lot of amnesic attitudinal disposition to this second national carrier! It is simply amazing how we forget our past so easily. He savours diligence and doles out mind-boggling recompense to those who show quintessence in the delivery of assignations. This celebrator does not care a hoot about people’s perception of him knowing full well, probably, that a lot of people have one grouse or another about him! You may not believe this: Dr. Adenuga works almost round the clock and scarcely has time for relaxation. He spends virtually the whole day holding meetings with directors and managers from his group here and overseas till the early hours of the next day and by 9 a.m. the day continues with fresh challenges and different sessions with new sets of managers. Indolent people cannot work with or even for him! Indeed, some employees of his wonder whether he sleeps at all This will interest you: it is easier to access President Goodluck Jonathan than to interface with Dr. Adenuga.

I say this from experience. You cannot see him unless he invites you no matter who you are! Nobody can intercede on your behalf except he demands to know your circumstance. He does not like to be persuaded over things he desires to do—the moment you do that, he is enraged and that could hallmark doomsday! Dr. Adenuga’s retentive memory and general cerebral comportment leave people gasping for breath. He knows something about everything and is well informed on all organisational issues concerning constituents of the Mike Adenuga Group. Issuing from the above is his catalytic intervention in telephony that revolutionized speech chemistry in this part of the world.

Prior to the advent of Glo Mobile, other service providers had obfuscated their audiences with the declaration that per-second billing was unimaginable, unfeasible and unthinkable! It took the bullishness of this business icon to halt the gargantuan rip-off. He has helped Nigerians to remove the exploitative scales on their eyes and the commercial propaganda used to blur their sight and sensibilities. The superfluity of his philanthropy, which transcends consanguinity, is such that he does not like seeing people suffering. There have been instances where he met less-privileged members of the society in sorry situations and had to intervene with alacrity in changing their lives. He does this without any class or other extraneous considerations.

I doubt if there is any Nigerian, living or dead, who has given out houses, service flats and cars for permanent ownership to fellow countrymen and even expatriates in his employ. This economic wizard’s generosity is breathtaking. Nothing makes this entrepreneurial juggernaut happy as diligence, which explains the robustness of his passion for hard work by those privileged to be associated with his vast empire. Apart from the direct human capital in his supranational institutions, he has fertilized and watered innumerable private initiatives of people who have come his way over the years from all walks of life. His accommodative organizational capacity is unparalleled in this part of the world.

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The testimonious declarations you digest here are factual beneficent attestations to this astute world-class business expert who has an uncanny penchant for transforming dormant businesses. Another intriguing aspect of this consummate humanist we are gladly celebrating today, especially, and other days, is his quintessential humility and simplicity. Overall, Dr. Adenuga, an unprecedented visionary symbol, has a profundity of energy, enthusiasm and empathy running in his veins. At times, those who know him closely wonder whether he would ever retire from economic activism. I have the conviction that his beneficiaries’ prayers for him have the propensity to keep him for the next 60 years and possibly beyond.

Simply put, this man has affected and continues to affect uncountable lives, many of whom I know. He enjoys offering Nigerians and non-Nigerians unlimited opportunities particularly through the instrumentality of Globacom as long as they believe in themselves. Most times, those who have access to this sports benefactor wonder if he has time for relaxation considering the maze of documents that crave his attention daily, including weekends, multifarious meetings that span all day and other official engagements that are equally time consuming and energy sapping. Does he have time to sleep at all? No weakling can work with or for this big boss: the challenges are pleasurably demanding and appreciated at the earliest opportune time.

The writer does not know, yet, if there is anyone who can be compared to this multi-billionaire in terms of attitudinal disposition, philanthropic invaluableness, generation of novelties and success inclination. It seems, somehow, that there is divine manifestation in whatever he lays his hand upon which gives rise to Midas touch in all he does. He does not compromise excellence and goes for the best in anything at stake: there is this amazing consciousness about quality. His sagacity, mind fertility and business versatility are unequalled in our time.

This oil baron remains one of the biggest employers of labour in the country. Another thing you may, probably, not know about this global torchbearer is his morbid phobia for failure. As I pointed out earlier, Mr. Chairman abhors all manner of drawbacks. This explains why he goes for the best of anything and everything. He doesn’t compromise standard. And for him, there are no half-measures at all. On this score, one can call him a Eurocentric person because of his unmitigated subscription to foreign things which he passionately believes have incomparable quality with products from this locale. This applies to even betrothals, branding, concepts and even obsequious circumstances.

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This country can never forget his mother’s eye-popping burial and daughter’s (Bella) superlative, un-matched and unsurpassable wedlock in the country’s bridal history. Hypercritics of the Bull (Dr. Adenuga’s fond name at Ibadan Grammar School) accuse him of intellectual snobbery because he never suffers fools gladly. They allege that he carries on too confidently and depends essentially on his cerebral capability and capacity. He unapologetically believes, according to them, that nobody is superior to him, knowledge-wise.

Interestingly, this brainpower has worked for him in the past 58 years! Nincompoops and fraudsters put him off. Dr. Michael Adeniyi Ishola Adenuga is a cultivator of acquaintanceship, companionship and friendship, but, in the same breath, he does not hesitate in calling it quits if associational challenges arise in breach of Mr. Chairman’s rare privilege craved by one and all. Surprisingly—because of his large heart—he gracefully allows room for serial make-ups and continual reunion. Contrarily, too, some of the relationships taste better as they get older just like wine, with time. In his relational activities, he does not just nurture bosom relationships, he pampers most of his friends and even few lucky staff in his employ up to the point of superfluity and satiation!

He even doles out convertible currencies routinely to these same people and other innumerable benefactors! A very ambitious man and a study in diligence, he rejuvenated—after acquisition—National Oil and Chemical Marketing (NOLCHEM), which metamorphosed into Consolidated Oil (Conoil) with upstream and downstream prospecting portfolios. It was the first indigenous oil company to strike oil on December 24, 1991. Clearly, he is a generational anchor endowed with divine blessings. He personifies entrepreneurship strewn with benevolence.

A gentleman with Midas touch who has mastered his environment by conquering all the latent constituents and elemental forces against all episodic odds, this investment captain remains an embodiment of industry, a beacon and blistering light in usually impossible tunnels and difficult terrains. If or when he has time—which is a rarity—he plays squash, uses the gym as a form of relaxation and socializes with friends. As you read this, his vast business empire keeps expanding, beyond bounds. The best is yet to come from this adept innovator, revolutionary extraordinaire, gem of our time and a generational statement.

An inspirational giant, highly imaginative and full of ideas, Dr. Adenuga’s sense of humour and experimental management of human capital and other productive resources are inimitable. I round off this tribute by underscoring the fact that God’s favours to our unassuming big boss are immeasurable. He is 99 per cent self-made. There is nothing else to add here except Happy Birthday, Sir! May you continue to find favour in the sight of God and man. Let me paraphrase the Psalmist: may the Almighty cause your name to be celebrated in all generations.

On retirement—if ever—you will be remembered for your unfazed economic nationalism.

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