Nigeria: Mike Adenuga - 66 Cheers to a Digital Guru (II)

opinion

His blossoming career, one recalls, started in 1990, when he received a drilling license from the regime of then military President Gen. Ibrahim Babangida. Subsequently, his Consolidated Oil company struck oil in the waters of Ondo State, in the South West geo-political zone, which was the first indigenous oil company to do so in commercial quantity in 1991. Besides, he owns the Mike Adenuga Group of companies comprising former Equitorial Trust Bank, Cobblestone Properties and Estates, a real estate and property development company, Conoil PLC, petroleum marketing company, and Conoil Producing, a crude exploration and production firm.

But it is in the telecommunications sector that perhaps, the business mogul has made the greatest impact. In 1999, he was issued a conditional Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) network license which was later revoked. He received a second license when the government held another auction in 2003.

Having done his homework properly, his telecom company Globacom (Glo) hit the ground running spreading rapidly and started challenging the dominance of South African giant MTN Group in the Nigerian market.

Globacom Limited founded on 29 August 2003 by Adenuga in no time came up with revolutionary services including per second billing which Nigerian subscribers were initially told by the first two entrants in the sector MTN and Econet (now Airtel) was impossible, a situation they endured for two years.

Yet, that singular innovation by Glo immediately endeared the company to the heart of subscribers who in turn embraced it whole heartedly through massive patronage. Till date the company has offered direct employment to more than 3,500 people and indirect jobs to hundreds of thousands others worldwide.

It had over 45 million subscribers at December 2018, which makes the company the second largest network operator in Nigeria, a feat said to have been made possible by the dynamic and focused leadership of Globacom chairman and the management team headed by his daughter Mrs. Bella Disu (Executive Vice Chairman). Indeed analysts had attributed Glo's effective massive telecommunication services and its ability to overcome the stiff competition continuously posed by the MTN Nigeria to the business acumen and adequate funding provided by Adenuga without which the company couldn't have weathered the storm.

Also, due to his dynamism in business operations, Glo Mobile now operates in four countries in West Africa, namely Nigeria, Republic of Benin, Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire. In addition, his passion for the information and communication technology, ICT according to some analysts resulted in the successful laying of Glo-1 submarine cable from the United Kingdom to Nigeria. It is the first individual African company to implement such a project.

The 9,800- km long high-capacity fibre-optic cable originated from Bude in the UK and laid from this origin to Alpha Beach in Lagos and executed at a cost of $800 million with 16 Landing Stations across Africa. Little wonder then that the company continues to provide high speed internet services, relatively cheaper telecom services alongside other value added services at competitive tariff, facilitate foreign investment and employment opportunities across the world.

A pillar of sports and entertainment as well as a cultural ambassador across Africa, Adenuga for his numerous attainments and meritorious service to humanity has been recognized at home and internationally. For instance, he has bagged the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), which is Nigeria's second highest national honour for a civilian who is not in government, Ghana's highest civil award, the Companion of the Star of Ghana (CSG) and the African Entrepreneur of The Year at the first African Telecoms Awards (ATA) in August 2007.

Significantly also, the digital guru has been conferred with France's highest national award of Commander of the Legion of Honour by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, who described Adenuga as "a true role model for Africa" and one with "incomparable spirit of entrepreneur, tenacity and ability to think out of the box". He further applauded Adenuga's contribution to the growth of the African and French economy and for the promotion of the French language and culture in Nigeria. He gave kudos also to Mrs. Bella Disu, who conceived, coordinated and executed the Alliance Française project.

Also, Glo under Adenuga's watch, continues to sponsor prominent festivals in the country including the Eyo Festival in Lagos State, Ojude Oba Festival in Ogun State and Ofala festival in Anambra State as part of measures to promote the nation's cultural heritage. Globacom also has invested heavily in entertainment and social interventions in Nigeria and Africa.

For instance, it is the biggest promoter of Nollywood which has helped to project our country in the global entertainment scene as well as sports in Africa. Glo has been sponsoring the annual Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards, now elevated to a major event in the global football calendar.

Dr. Adenuga holds a Yoruba chieftaincy title -the Otunba Apesin of the Ijebu clan in Ogun State and he is married with children. As the Otunba clocks 66 on Monday April 29, we join other teeming Nigerians to wish the digital guru happy birthday.

-Imonikhe and Amor, are, respectively, former Nigerian Newspaper Editors.

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