Silent Nigerian billionaires: When the names of billionaires are being mentioned in Nigeria, it is easy for names such as Aliko Dangote, Mike Adenuga or Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija to come to mind.
1 Jimoh Ibrahim – Nicon Insurance, Global Fleet: The story of Jimoh Ibrahim cannot fail to inspire anyone treading the path to become successful in life. Born to poor parents with about 17 siblings on 24 February 1967, he became a millionaire when he was still studying law at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) running seminars for local governments on Taxation. In 2002/2003 he contested for the governorship position of Ondo State but lost and he went on to start Global Fleet – a petroleum marketing company. Today he has grown to become one of Nigeria’s billionaires and his investments include the following sectors, among others: oil and gas distribution, hotels, resorts, airlines, banking, real estate, insurance, publishing and investments. He delivers free lectures once a month at Excellence Hotel in Ogba, Lagos through City People on how Nigerians can make millions from any business they venture into.
2 Chief Ade Ojo – Elizade Motors Nig LTD, Distributor of Toyota cars: Chief Michael Ade Ojo was born on June 14, 1938 and was one of the pioneer students of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka where he graduated from with a degree in Business Administration in 1965. In 1975, he cofounded Elizade Independent Agencies, with his late wife, Chief (Mrs.) Elizabeth Wuraola Ojo. The name originated from the first four letters of his wife’s name “Eliz” as well as the first three letters of his own name “Ade.” Today, the company has grown into ELIZADE Group of Company with as much as seven subsidiaries. He is also solely involved in the construction of a polytechnic; Elizade Polytechnic, Ilara Mokin which is aimed at giving the average Nigerian child quality education.
3 Jim Ovia – Banking and Communications: Mr. Jim Ovia was a co-founder of Zenith Bank Plc and he served as its Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer for 10 years. In July this year he returned as chairman of Zenith Bank Group and he remains the bank’s largest individual shareholder with a 9.3% stake. He is also the founder of Visafone Communications Limited and in August 2014, he started construction on a $1.5 billion petrochemical complex in Akwa-Ibom in Nigeria. He is a holder the Member of the Order of Federal Republic (MFR).
4 Tony Elumelu – Chairman, UBA Group: Tony Elumelu has been a major player in Nigeria’s financial industry. A serial investor and businessman, Tony is the chairman of UBA Group, one of Africa’s most successful banks; Heirs Holdings, an investment company; and Transnational Corporation (TRANSCORP Plc), a conglomerate with investments in hospitality, oil, agriculture, and logistics. Elumelu is also a renowned philanthropist; his Tony Elumelu Foundation sponsors several charity efforts in Nigeria and across the continent while his Africapitalism Institute studies the rise of capitalism in Africa. He was listed as one of the 100 most influential people in Africa in 2011 by New African magazine and a year later, by Forbes magazine as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012″.
5 Pascal Dozie – MTN Nigeria, Diamond Bank: Pascal Dozie was born to a country court interpreter in Owerri Imo state on April 9, 1939. He established Diamond Bank which commenced operations in 1991 and the multi-billionaire has once revealed in an interview that the first customer was his wife. He pioneered electronic transfers in Nigeria to enable traders transfer their cash easily without having to carry it around. The real source of his wealth came when a South African cellphone company, MTN partnered with him to setup a cellphone network in the Nigerian market. Taking the huge risk at the time, he raised the necessary funds with MTN completing the rest and today Nigerians can attest to the success of MTN Nigeria. He is currently Chairman of MTN Nigeria and is a founding partner of Africa Capital Alliance, the first Nigerian private equity fund manager.
6 Leo Stan Ekeh – Zinox Computer: The chairperson of Zinox Technologies Limited, Leonard Stanley Nnamdi Ekeh was born on February 22, 1956 in Ubomiri Mbaitoli of Imo State. He is fondly referred to as Bill Gates of Nigeria because of his exploits in the field of information technology. The astute business man used his school fess to start his business several years ago, a decision which made him miss sitting for his LLM in Business Law which he spent more than a year to prepare for. He started Task Systems Ltd, which is now one of the companies under the Zinox Group. In addition to Zinox, he has been involved with companies like ICT Brokers, TD Plus, ICT Connect and Buyright AFRICA Dotcom.
7 Prince Samuel Adedoyin – Doyin Group: Samuel Adedoyin is a Kwara born businessman and the founder of Doyin Group of Companies. The Doyin Group of companies is a conglomerate that is wholly indigenous comprising of 15 subsidiaries. He started out as a small trading business before growing into a conglomerate. The group’s business interests spans manufacturing, real estate, banking, hospitality and energy.
8 Chief Molade Okoya Thomas – Chairman CFAO Nig and other six French companies: Molade Okoya-Thomas was born in Lagos on 8 June 1935 and in 1959 he was employed as an accountant by French conglomerate, CFAO Nigeria Limited before rising to Director in 1975. He went on to become the Deputy Managing Director in 1981 and Chairman of the Group in 1987 and he is the current chancellor of Lagos State University (LASU). Worthy of mention is that he built and donated a Modern Sports Hall for students and staff of LASU in 2009. He has also been awarded Member of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (MFR).
9 Oba Otudeko – Honeywell Group Nigeria: Oba Otudeko is the founder and chairman of Honeywell Group as well as the chairman of Airtel Nigeria, and Fan Milk of Nigeria. He was born on the 18th of August, 1943 and he is one of Nigeria’s most successful investor and entrepreneur. He retired as the Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria Plc after 12 years on the Board of the Bank. Between September 2006 and August 2009, he was the 16th President and Chairman of Council of the Nigerian Stock Exchange. His conglomerate’s operations stretch across oil and gas, flour milling, real estate and marine transportation.
10 Fola Adeola– GTBank: Tajudeen Afolabi Adeola is a businessman and politician and he alongside Tayo Aderinokun established Guaranty Trust Bank in 1990 which he managed as director/CEO up till July 2002. The bank became listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange in 1996. He retired from the bank in 2002 after twelve years. He is a member of the Commission for Africa, the founder and chairman of the FATE Foundation a non-governmental organisation which aims to encourage entrepreneurship through trainings, mentoring, loan support and consulting to support young Nigerians.