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By Victoria Chioma Ogboko

When the history of Nigeria nay the world will be completely written, the name of the famous philanthropist, Dr Mike Adeniyi Adenuga, will be on the top of those who contributed immensely in making it a better place for humanity to thrive on, despite the challenges of declining conduciveness that bestrides God’s famous creation.
As Dr. Adenuga Jr., the Chairman of Nigeria’s foremost digital services company, Globacom, who turns 71 on April 29, is known to be among Nigerian businessmen who did not made their fortune largely by befriending every government in power for bogus contracts, concessions and waivers, yet by the time he turned 50 years, he was already a multi-billionaire sitting atop what is generally regarded as one of the continent’s largest business empires. His Midas touch in business stretches from oil and gas to telecommunications, aviation, banking, construction and real estate, etc.

In each of these critical sectors of the economy, Dr. Adenuga has built his companies into major players. In the oil and gas sector, for instance, Conoil Plc is one of the most profitable oil marketing companies in Nigeria. He had bought over a dying National Oil and within a few years turned it into a thriving business now known as Conoil Plc. Conoil Producing, the downstream arm of the conglomerate, made history by becoming the first Nigerian company to strike oil and produce it in commercial quantity. In banking, Equitorial Trust Bank (ETB) was one of the few banks that effortlessly met the N25 billion capital requirement without going to the stock market or merging with other banks except Devcom Bank which was also owned by Adenuga. ETB later merged with Sterling Bank where he is the largest shareholder. He is also one of the biggest shareholders in Transcorp Plc and Nigeria’s oldest bank, First Bank of Nigeria Plc. It doesn’t end there; Adenuga is equally the largest shareholder in Nigeria’s foremost construction companies, Julius Berger Plc.

In telecommunications, Globacom is reputed to be the most innovative network in Nigeria as well as the pacesetter in Nigeria’s quest to become a digital society. His investment in real estate alone is said to be worth over three billion dollars. These companies provide direct employment to thousands of Nigerians and millions of others indirectly.
That Adenuga is one of the world’s wealthiest men is not in doubt; what may not be well known is the driving force behind this business phenomenon. How do you decipher the mind of a man who hardly grants press interviews or speaks in public? He does not attend public functions, does not go out to court political leaders like other Nigerian businessmen do. Indeed, his preference for privacy is such that even some of the workers at his numerous businesses have never set eyes on him.
But what perhaps gives an insight into his mind, personal and business philosophies and what drives his existence is his postulations on ”Achieving” which he released on April 29,1993, to mark his 40th birthday.

To help understand what has made Dr Adenuga the symbol of enterprise and success he is today, this masterfully crafted business bible bears recalling:
“Achieving is a thing of resolve and persistence,” Adenuga wrote. “It is the state of attaining success as a goal through sustained consistency. The achiever is a leader, a winner, all the time, not just once. Achieving is an attitude.
“Leading the pack is the only worthwhile resolve for the achiever. There is no room for second place. It is often said that it is not the winning that counts, but the participation. This adage does not reflect an achieving attitude. It is not the mere participant, but the achiever, the winner, the leader who makes the difference that advances the course of humankind in the judgement of history.
He continues: “High profile corporate game playing is an arena where the pervading zeal is on achieving in every single endeavour: to be the first, and always the first; to be the one who holds the aces that determine the pace of play. You do not enter the arena to depend on luck. You match your wits against others, with your entire constitution springing to action. Every fibre from innermost recesses of your being, to the fore, becomes combative in a synchronised zeal to achieve. With this strategy, you’re never going to come off the arena a loser.”
On how to successfully run a business concern, Adenuga submits: “Essentially, running a business is similar to leading a military operation or orchestrating a political campaign, or performing as a great athlete. The fundamental principles are the same. The overriding objective is to outmaneuver the opposing forces; to outsmart the other party; to out-perform the competition; to outwit the other guy – to achieve. This may sound harsh. But that is the way it is”.
To be able to achieve success, he counsels that entrepreneurs must engage the best hands, those with a competitive spirit and winning attitude. No wonder then that Adenuga pays special attention to recruitment process in his companies: “Success is the goal of every business, and the most successful businesses engage the most competitive men. They are there to compete – to savour the grind and brutal discipline of epic combat – and to achieve”.
Notwithstanding the firm and pragmatic business philosophy, Adenuga remains a strong believer in God, in equity and fair play: “Let my words not be misunderstood. I do not believe that men must be dehumanised or brutalised to acquire an achieving attitude. I am a staunch believer in the Divine Presence of God, and recognise the necessity of human decency and goodwill. But at the same time, I strongly believe that a corporate player’s greatest fulfilment is that critical moment when he engages in that epic corporate combat with all he’s got and emerges as the man of the moment: the achiever.

“In the end, the achiever has a moral obligation to reflect upon the general condition of humanity in the larger field of play. Such a reflection should materialise in a philanthropic attitude – that which is responsible, organised and reasoned – as well as promotion of knowledge…”

With this mindset of an “Achiever” as defined by Dr Adenuga, it is easier to understand the sheer gut and determination that have characterized his resounding successes. From his perseverance to go into oil drilling when the odds seemed against him and his mates were selling off their oil blocks to his bouncing back with Globacom in 2003 after the setback of losing $20 million in the 2001 GSM license auction when government awarded him an encumbered frequency, it has been one story after another of rushing in where angels fear to tread.

Despite his humongous accomplishments, Adenuga has remained an embodiment of humility. And in spite of his overriding preoccupation with success, he holds as his motivation in business not to become the richest man in Africa (even though those close to him vouch he already is) but to add value to the life of Nigerians. “If I can be seen as adding value to Nigerians, it is more fulfilling,” he enthused.

In all Dr Adenuga through his companies, and through his quiet but numerous philanthropic gestures, has done for humanity he deserves all the accolades as he marks his 71st birthday. Congratulations, sir!

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