Globacom Chairman on FT Top 6 List

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The Financial Times of London, yesterday gave a list of six Nigerians it rated as “Six of the best: Lords of the emerging private sector” stating that they constitute an elite club of business executives who have exploited Nigeria’s emerging private sector opportunities to become super rich in recent years.
The list led with the president of Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and has five others namely, the chairman of Globacom, Mike Adenuga, Chief executive of UBA, Tony Elumelu, the chairman of Zenith Bank, Jim Ovia, Zenon’s Femi Otedola and Dahiru Mangal of Mangal Air.
For Dangote, the newspaper said it is a measure of the achievement that he has made his fortune from more humble commodities such as cement, flour and sugar.
“After starting as a trader, Mr Dangote is now one of the largest private sector employers. He has invested heavily in fixed asset production facilities in Nigeria and is the broker of ground-breaking deals with South Africa and China,” FT said.
On Adenuga, FT said he has traversed the world of oil, banking and now telecoms. “Quite literally, larger than life – at least to newly arrived visitors to Ghana, who face huge billboards carrying the likeness of the founder of Globacom, Mr Adenuga’s expanding mobile network as they make their way into Accra,” it said.
The newspaper said Adenuga has shrugged off speculation that his wealth is built on relations he enjoyed with Nigeria’s military rulers in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
“His relationship with the government has not been without its moments of difficulty. He found himself under investigation in 2006 by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. After being arrested for two days Mr Adenuga then spent several months out of the country,” FT stated.
Elumelu was described as a serial optimist who has driven the bank to a new international profile with a network that includes a presence in the US and the UK.
“He is also a figure of some controversy, both with regard to his 2005 takeover of the bank and for his bank’s relations with several former government officials and state governors now linked to corruption,” the report said.
FT said that Ovia returned to Nigeria from studying in the US in the 1980s with an MBA from Louisiana University and a plan to set up something new in Nigerian banking.
“He founded Zenith in 1990 and continues to shape the bank in his own image. Under his stewardship Zenith survived the crash of the mid-1990s when Sani Abacha, Nigeria’s then military ruler, closed down foreign exchange dealing loopholes and forced many unsound banks out of business,” FT said noting that his success stems from his devise of uncluttered bureaucracy of established rivals,
Otedola was described as the diesel prince. According to the report, the reasons behind Otedola’s astonishingly swift rise from relative anonymity to a position where his company, Zenon Petroleum and Gas enjoyed a near monopoly on Nigeria’s lucrative market in diesel have attracted interest and speculation in equal measure.
Mangal, according to FT, “He is, however a well-connected and increasingly prosperous businessman from President Yar’Adua’s native Katsina state with interests in haulage and trading, as well as air charters. Mr Mangal is said to have helped finance Mr Yar’Adua’s gubernatorial campaigns in Katsina in 1999 and 2003 and is one of the few businessmen to have the president’s ear.”