My Wealth Wasn't Because I Was Maryam Babangida's Tailor, Folorunsho Alakija Explains

My Wealth Wasn't Because I Was Maryam Babangida's Tailor, Folorunsho Alakija Explains

  • Folorunsho Alakija has told Nigerians to stop insinuating that she became rich because Maryam Babangida was one of her client
  • The richest woman in Nigeria said she struggled to become a successful businesswoman as many of her applications for oilbloc was rejected
  • Alakija is not the only woman that got license to own a oilfield, according to her, she was just one of many, but continues learning made her become richer

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Nigeria's richest woman, Folorunsho Alakija, has criticised people's narrative on how she acquired her wealth, stating it wasn't given to her on a platter of gold.

Alakija said people tell stories about late Maryam Babangida, former Nigerian first lady, being the secret behind her wealth as she had sewn clothes for the wife of the military head of state.

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Being the fashion designer to Maryam was reported to have earned her a oilblock, but the billionaire said she had to hustle for it as several letters of interest to the then minister of petroleum during Babangida's military regime were rejected.

My Wealth Wasn't Because I Was Maryam Babangida's Tailor, Folorunsho Alakija Explains
Nigerian richest woman, Folorunsho Alakija. Photo: Lukman Taiwo Bakare
Source: Facebook

How Alakija made her journey into oil wealth

Alakija explained that a family friend had tried to use her contact with Maryam as leverage to secure an appointment with the petroleum minister as the friend had some foreign clients interested in lifting crude from Nigeria.

But the minister told Alakija that the military government was more interested in supporting local participation than foreigners - this encouraged the businesswoman to take advantage of the new direction.

She said Mrs. Babangida helped her schedule several appointments with the Minister, and on all occasions, her application for an oilblock was denied.

Alakija said she continued to apply despite another minister taking over. After more than three tries, the fashion designer finally got a license, and she wasn't the only woman given an oilblock.

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Alakija is unhappy with narrative

The billionaire said it's unfair people base her success to being the tailor of Mrs. Babangida, stating that it wasn't limited to it as she had to go through school to be able to manage the oil business.

She said when the oil bloc was given to her, people didn't want to invest in it because the oil business was too expensive. According to her, it took three years to find a technical partner.

Alakija explained to Arise TV during an interview:

"I think I was one of the women to get the license and it is very painful when you listen to what people say that 'oh it's because she made blouses for Mrs Babangida', 'Oh it's because she was one of them'.
"How about all the others who got all the license and who weren't in the oil industry at the time that they got the license? So because they are men, they have two heads? Is it fair on womanhood? Why relegate us to the background? Why say we can't when we can?

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"When all the prerequisites could be ticked, I made all of them available. I had technical partners, I went here and there. I supplied everything. I did my homework. I leant on the job, I went for courses as well, to build me up, to be able to seat in the board room and face others.''

Alakija's wealth has been ranked by Forbes, although she fell off Africa's billionaire list in 2021, having ranked 20th.

Aliko Dangote made N13.16 billion in twelve months

In related billionaire news, had previously reported that Aliko Dangote, the richest person in Nigeria generated N13.16 billion in one year.

The money was made from his sugar business which is one of the most popular brand across Nigeria. He has companies involved in cement and salt.

The N13.16 billion is worth N12.2 billion, and his 8.77 billion shares in Dangote Sugar generates billions for him yearly.


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