These days the trend in Nigeria’s social media space is that grown men and women are clamouring for accolades, stating that they deserve them and that they have paid their dues. Not a few of them may be able to beat their chest that amongst their many accolades, they have been called “The King of African Oil’ by Forbes, “Entrepreneur of the Year, West Africa” by Ernst &Young, “Africa Executive of the Year” by Oil Council, “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum and “African Business Leader of the Year” by Africa Investor. These accolades and more have been used to label Wale Tinubu, the Chief Excutive Officer and Group Managing Director of Africa’s leading integrated energy solutions provider, Oando PLC.
A trained lawyer with a precocious business sense, Wale Tinubu’s rise to become one of the world’s top businessmen is remarkable. From a young age, he knew how to spot a deal where others didn’t and then make the most of it. The story is often told of how when he was sent from Nigeria to England for the furtherance of his education, he would use his tuition fees to purchase luxury cars, sell them to car connoisseurs and make sizable profits after recouping his investment. A risky move you might say but as it is said, fortune favours the brave. This good fortune found him ready and bold in the 1990s and from selling cars, Wale Tinubu made his fortuitous entrance into Nigeria’s oil and gas industry.
One of his friends had secured a contract to supply diesel from Port Harcourt to Lagos but didn’t have a vessel to do so. Wale had another friend who had access to a decrepit, weather-beaten tanker vessel and he then chartered the vessel to supply the product for his friend who had won a contract but had no vessel to deliver. Wale bought that vessel later on and as the business thrived, the company he had set up for the process became Nigeria’s leading trader and supplier of petroleum products. As Ocean and Oil (as it was then known) grew, it gobbled up the government-owned Unipetrol during a window of privatization opened in the year 2000 by the Nigerian government. Not long after, oil giant Agip was also acquired in what was the largest ever acquisition of a company quoted on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. At that point, the company morphed into Oando PLC and it has become ubiquitous in Nigeria today. With Wale Tinubu at the helm, Oando has spread its tentacles into other African nations and became the first African company to have a cross-border inward listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
Well known for his business acumen and leadership, he is lesser known for his philanthropic acts and this is deliberate. Although he donates massively to charitable causes, he prefers to be discreet about it but there are thousands of lives that have benefited from his kindness. He turned 51 this June and although there was a lot to celebrate, this particular birthday celebration was muted and on a sober note as his younger brother, Deji Tinubu was snatched away by the cold hands of death earlier on in the year.
Here’s wishing Wale Tinubu the very best on the occasion of his birthday and indeed with his present and future endeavours. Men such as him are an inspiration to millions of entrepreneurs across the African continent, especially in Nigeria.