Mike Adenuga: A layered legacy for young people | The Guardian Nigeria News

In the age of social media, it is apparently difficult for public figures to keep their lives extremely private.
The unquenchable thirst for content has increased the publicity of previously classified information and, in their quest for demystification, some perceived as reclusive have bowed to the pressure of sharing on social media. For example, in the past, members of the British royal family were notoriously private, but today they share parts of their lives on social media and have even, for the first time, televised their accession ceremony. life.

While one could place this in the changing times, where would you place the apparent desperation of a number of multi-millionaires and even some billionaires to validate and see their ego and dopamine boosted by a few retweets and likes ? Some might even pass for bloggers these days.

One billionaire has defied this pressure in a telling way – Otunba Dr. Micheal Adenuga Jnr., one of the richest men in the world. Although much has been written about Dr. Adenuga, relatively little is known about him. His success in building a public persona defined by invisibility earned him the moniker “Spirit”, which later morphed into “Spirit of Africa”. It has been known that, true to his witty personality, he has no social media accounts, is rarely in the public eye, and only sees those he wants to see when he wants to see them and for as long as he has. intend to see them. He has also been described as an enigma. However, this enigma, which makes rare public appearances, has become a bigger influence than one might think.

A descendant of Pariola, a very wealthy and influential merchant, MA Jnr. is the second son of Oloye Micheal Agbolade Adenuga Snr., who was a schoolteacher, and Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga (née Onashile of Okesopin, Ijebu Igbo), who was a businesswoman. Born in Ibadan on April 29, 1953 but with roots in Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State, the business guru was given the name John Bull due to his height at birth and has since reflected certain characteristics of ‘a bull, like being a relentless fighter.

Mike Adenuga was not born with the kind of silver spoon that one can easily associate with one’s own children today. Although his family was well off, he had to work early to increase family support. One of those times was while he was studying abroad. Many Nigerians, especially in the diaspora, can relate to the cycle of work and study and the difficulty of combining two jobs while studying. But it was not far from the story of Mike Adedunga, who had to work as a taxi driver and security guard to survive and raise his tuition while he pursued a degree in business administration.

After Mike Adenuga returned home in 1974 from studying abroad, he hinted that he thrived because he was a jack-of-all-trades. He managed the operation of his family sawmill in Ogun State while engaging in other side businesses. From the importation of car radios – as cars imported into Nigeria at the time hardly had – to the importation of lace, the importation of sawmill equipment, tomato paste, wines and beer. He was also into general merchandise and construction. By the age of 26, he had become a millionaire selling soft drinks and lace.

So how did Mike Adenuga become a silent influencer when you rarely see him outside? His action speaks louder than his words; Through his businesses and ventures, Mr. Adenuga has contributed immensely to the ease of living and working in Nigeria.

“Adulthood na scam” is a song made popular by young people today. Needless to say we would have been furious to pay N60 per minute for a phone conversation whether the call lasted 5 seconds or 59 seconds – calls were rounded up to one minute or the nearest minute, for the benefit of companies GSM operating at the time (MTN and Econet Wireless). The man who perfected the act of consecutive absence or bullish presence, Mike Adenuga indeed disrupted the industry in a way rarely seen since; Globacom dropped the price of SIM cards and also started per-second billing – PSB – two moves that had been predicted as unlikely in the foreseeable future at the time. This bull was busy with another scenario from the one that was in play at the time.

The objective behind the introduction of per-second billing was to make telecommunications services more accessible to the everyday Nigerian. As a result of his actions, prices for SIM cards have collapsed along with the cost of phone calls. The fact that we are now billed for exact second calls is one of Mike Adenuga’s many legacies.

The introduction of per-second billing and the collapse of SIM card prices are not the only acts of service rendered to the common Nigerian by Mr. Adenuga. Through his company, Globacom, Dr. Adenuga has sponsored the Nigerian and Ghanaian football leagues as well as the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Including the Glo battle of the year. Mr. Adenuga has strategically made several young Nigerians millionaires. He has elevated Nigerian celebrities to become superstars using the Glo Ambassadorship platform in a way never seen and done before.

Mike Adenuga has further shown his service to the common Nigerian through the opening of the Mike Adenuga Center in 2019. The aim of the center is to deepen the bond between Nigerians and the Francophone community. The center offers language classes, an art gallery and French experience for the ordinary Nigerian who cannot travel to French-speaking countries to gain these experiences.

His services to Nigerians and by extension to Nigeria as a whole prompted the Mike Adenuga Foundation, which focuses on entrepreneurship development, education, health and rural development. This is the mechanism by which he silently donated 500 million naira to flood victims in Bayelsa in 2012 and 1.5 billion naira to fight COVID-19, among many interventions he has done. her best to stay away from the media.

Back when it seemed like everything had been done and there was nothing new to do, it is worth remembering that Mr. Adenuga’s Conoil Producing Limited made history as the first indigenous company in the Nigeria to have extracted crude oil in commercial quantity in 1991. Today, Conoil operates 6 oil blocks in Nigeria with about 300 branches nationwide and has provided employment opportunities to several Nigerians.

Mike Adenuga’s success story is not without failures. One of the most notorious was the failure of his company Communications Investment Limited (CIL) to acquire the Provisional Mobile Communications (GSM) licenses auctioned by the Nigerian government in 2001. The reason alleged was their inability to raise the sum prior to acquisition; however, Mike Adenuga debunked this and categorically stated that the license awarded to them was contentious and although the payments were met, the Nigerian government refused the terms with which the payment was made.

Proof of Mike Adenuga’s innate ability to persist in the face of adversity, despite losing $20 million in mandatory licensing filing fees on the first offering, he made the same payments again a year later in the quest for the license of the second national operator (SNO) and was awarded the same. The initial setback would have sent many people into oblivion.

The Spirit of Africa strongly believes in the constant acquisition of knowledge, inspiring young people to continually seek knowledge, especially for those starting a business.

Umoh wrote from Abuja, Nigeria.

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