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A TITAN’S ODYSSEY : Otunba (Dr.) Mike Adenuga @ 71 By Keem Abdul

Read Time:5 Minute, 29 Second




It is tempting to see the stupendous, almost unfathomable wealth, and the opulence and luxury it has afforded him – and conclude, as some are wont to do – that he was simply singled out by God, or Providence, or Blind Lady Luck, for special favour. 

While that may well be the case, it will be too simpllistic an explanation for the astounding success (and indeed, the inspirational life-journey) of Otunba (Dr.) Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga, GCON , who marked his 71st birthday on Monday, April 29, 2024, and his rise to become one of the richest persons in Africa. Not only is his success the result of hard work, grit and single-minded determination to succeed (not to mention a crackling business acumen that was discovered at an early age and sharpened over the years), it was not exactly an overnight transformation, nor was it the result of a Road-to-Damascus epiphany. The heights that great men attained, as the writer William Wordsworth reminds us, were not attained ‘by sudden flight.’

As with many great men, opinions differ about the essential character of the man and the model by which he runs his businesses, as well as the passions that drive his work and relationships (professional and personal alike). But one inescapable fact that both admirers and detractors will agree on is that when the definitive story of Nigeria’s entrepreneurial landscape, and the profiles of the titans that have bestridden that landscape, comes to be written, the name ‘Mike Adenuga‘ will stand out in bold relief. 

One reason his name will belong to the ages, of course, is Globacom Telecommunications Limited (or Glo), the behemoth he created back in 2003. But Mike Adenuga’s climb up the ladder of wealth began long before Glo. His start in business was as a trader who reportedly made his first million at the age of 26 from selling lace materials and soft drinks. From there he delved into the lucrative oil and gas industry with the founding of Consolidated Oil (or Conoil, for short).  In time, his interests expanded into banking and finance, real estate and construction.

The founding of Globacom – the momentous venture into the telecommunication sector that has become the signature of his enterprise and made him a household name – remains one of the most seismic events in the chequered history of Corporate Nigeria and Africa, as it brought about a sea-change, not only in the telecommunications industry, but in the lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians. It famously gave Nigerians a new lease of life with the innovative introduction of per-second-billing which other operators had said at the time was ‘impossible.’ 


‘Impossible’ – as his predecessors in the industry, and his competition since then, have found out – is a word Mike Adenuga is not familiar with. His combination of attributes, and his sheer doggedness, tenacity, resilience, persistence, consistency and attention to detail, as well as the Midas Touch that transforms every venture he veers into, into corporate gold, evinces the sentiment expressed by Tom Cruise’s boss in the movie, Mission: Impossible: “For you, ‘difficult’ is a walk in the park; impossible… just takes a little more time.”

Time, we have been told, is neutral; it can be an agent either of progress or of stagnation and even retrogression. Despite the humble nature of his birth and upbringing, Dr. Adenuga can look back over the course of his 71 years of existence on this mortal plane and rightfully say that time has been good to him – because he has used his time well. Born on April 29 April, 1953 to the family of Oloye Michael Agbolade Adenuga Sr, a schoolteacher, and Omoba Juliana Oyindamola Adenuga, a businesswoman, the young Michael received his secondary education at the Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan in Nigeria’s Oyo State, as well as the Comprehensive High School, Aiyetoro, for his Higher School Certificate (HSC). He holds undergraduate and advanced degrees  Business Administration from Northwestern Oklahoma State University and Pace University, New York, respectively (both in the USA). 

In 1991, his company, Conoil, became the first indigenous oil company to strike oil in commercial quantity, in south-western Ondo State. His venture into telecoms was cemented in 1999 when he was issued a second GSM license in 2003 (after the revocation of the first, conditional, licence granted to him in 1999) which was later revoked. 

The rest, as they say, is history. 

Today, Globacom is arguably Nigeria’s second-largest telecoms operator, boasting of strategic business units such as Glo Mobile, Glo Broad Access, Glo Gateway and Glo-1. In 2011, the company became the first telecommunications company to build an $800 million high-capacity fibre-optic submarine cable from the United Kingdom to Nigeria. In recent years, its footprint has transcended the borders of its country of origin, with a robust presence in neighbouring West Africans countries such as Ghana and Benin Republic. 

The multi-billionaire, is the recipient of a plethora of awards, recognitions and accolades for his immense contributions to the development of the Nigerian economy, and the nation’s telecoms industry in particular. They include the ‘African Entrepreneur of The Year‘ award in 2007, among other recognitions from industry stakeholders. 

In 2012, he was invested with the national honour of Grand Commander of the Order of the Nigeria by then-President Goodluck Jonathan, while in 2018, he was decorated with the insignia of ‘Commander of the Legion of Honour’ by French President Emmanuel Macron. He was also cited as one of the ‘Top 100 Most Influential Africans’ by New African Magazine in 2019.

The business mogul also holds many traditional chieftaincy titles – including the prestigious insignia of ‘Otunba Apesin’ of the Ijebu clan. 

To those who know him best, he is variously known as The Bull, The Spirit of Africa, The Great Guru, etc. Indeed, the strength, influence and impact of the proudly Nigerian network he has built and nurtured over the years mirror his own, namely, Strong, Sturdy and Resilient. As he marks his 71st year on planet Earth (with more years of success and high achievement to come, God willing) Globacom’s thousands of employees, its millions of subscribers scattered across the West Africa sub-region, as well as its hundreds of corporate partners – from both the public and private sectors – will agree that those sobriquets fit this great son of Ijebuland, Nigeria and Africa, Otunba (Dr.) MichaelAdeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga, GCON – like a glove. 

Happy birthday to the Bull! 

Happy birthday to the Great Guru!

Long live the Spirit of Africa! 


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