Nigeria's Top Four Business Leaders of Post-independence are Worth Over N9trn; Obi Cubana Makes Notable List
- Nigeria's business environment has changed since independence, and the new faces are making their money from nightclubs, oil, cement, others
- In pre-independence Nigeria, having a kola nut business was enough to become the richest person in Nigeria, but all that has changed post-independence
- The new business leaders selected in this list are worth over N9.4 trillion ($23 billion), with one continuing his family's legacy in the new era
Could you believe all it took to become the richest man in pre-independence Nigeria was kola nut and groundnut - yeah, you read right - then add a bit of beads and necklace businesses to the list.
Those are what Alhassan Dantata needed to become the richest Nigerian before his death in 1955, five years to the country's independence from the British.
However, since Nigeria became an Independent country, those businesses are not as valuable as they used to be, and the path to becoming a billion-dollar Nigerian is tarred with cement, littered with oil, and roamed by persons offering network service.
In the last 61 years, as several businesses sprung up in Nigeria, pre-independence businessmen and businesswomen lost their dominance to a new breed of business minds in the self-actualisation era.
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This brings us to four of the post-independence faces lording over the business environment in Nigeria. All of whom are worth a combined over N9 trillion ($23 billion).
From the family of Chief L. A. Ogbara of Ikorodu, Lagos State comes the 70-year-old businesswoman who is the oldest post-independence business leader.
She is known as the richest woman in Nigeria, and the first female billionaire in the country - although Alakija seems to have lost the title of the latter.
Alakija started as a fashion designer, with Supreme Stitches (later known as The Rose Of Sharon House of Fashion) in the early 1990s. While that business linked her to the former first lady of Nigeria, Maryam Babangida, it wasn't the breakthrough for her.
It was an oil block license she got in 1993 that paved the way for her into the billionaire status of today and created the Famfa Oil Limited business - but in 2020, a drop in oil price reduced her wealth to below $1 billion, according to Forbes report in January this year.
Rabiu was born 27 days before Nigeria became independent. His business drive could be traced down to his 1970s industrialist late father, Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu.
He began to head his family business at age 24 when the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari reportedly detained his father Isyaku Rabiu, for owed duties on rice import.
Thirty-seven years later, Rabiu is the third richest person in Nigeria with $5.5 billion.
His company, BUA International, was established in 1988, furthering the importation business of rice, edible oil, flour, and iron and steel.
But acquisitions of Nigerian Oil Mills Limited and Cement Company in Northern Nigeria by BUA solidified Rabiu's position among the top five business leaders of Nigeria's pre-independence era.
The 68-year-old businessman is the son of a school teacher, Oloye Michael Agbolade Adenuga Sr, who married Omoba Juliana Oyindamola Onashile.
Although it had been reported that he made his first million by selling lace and distributing soft drinks, but his business direction changed in 1991 when his business, Consolidated Oil discovered oil in Ondo, a year after receiving a drilling license.
Twelve years later, he got a conditional GSM licence after it was the first one he got in 1999 was revoked - this led to the establishment of Globacom, the only domestic telco playing at the top level in the country.
Adenuga is worth $6.3 billion, and he amassed this wealth through providing internet and call services, six oil blocks operated by his exploration firm, Conoil, in Niger Delta, as well as Sterling Bank and First Bank.
Born to the family of Mohammed Dangote, Hajia Mariya Sanusi Dantata, on April 10, 1957, Aliko Dangote, has been the richest Nigerian in the last three decades, with no one coming close.
The 64-year-old Kano indigene is the great-grandson of Dantata, and seem to have taken the baton from him to continue the legacy into post-independence Nigeria.
Forty-four years after he went into trading, Dangote has a fortune worth $12.4 billion as of September 2021, according to Forbes, and he is the richest man in Africa. His cement business, Dangote Cement, earned him such a position.
Although he has added agric businesses such as Dangote Salt, Sugar, Rice and Tomato, his oil refinery is projected to commence operation in 2022.
Notable mentions in Nigeria's business environment
Agbaje was born into the notable family of a banker, Chief Julius Kosebinu Agbaje, and teacher, Margaret Olabisi Agbaje, with his older brother being Jimini Agbaje, who has been the Lagos Governorship candidate of the People's Democratic Party in the last two decades.
So you have a proper sense of his family background - wealth is not new to Agbaje who now holds the position of chairman at Guaranty Trust Holding Company, after serving as CEO for 10-years.
But before Agbaje became a mogul in the banking industry in Nigeria, he sharpened his career at Ernst & Young in San Francisco but left to join GTBank in 1991.
In July 2020, Agbaje was appointed to PepsiCo's board of directors. While his total net worth is not publicly known, the 57-year-old's annual salary as of 2020 was about N399.7 million.
When you talk about the new generation of businessmen in Nigeria, probably the last decade, Obi Cubana, real name Obinna Iyiegbu, comes to mind.
Cubana has shown owning a nightclub could earn one a position among Nigeria's top businessmen, as his nightlife companies, Club Cubana, Ibiza Cubana and Gustavo Cubana are the heavy of his competitors.
The Anambra born socialist is said to be worth about N39.54 billion, although this fortune is also drawn from real estate. Cubana said he had given 53 uneducated Oba boys N3 million each to support their entrepreneurial ambition in 2017.
Three Loud Billion-naira Youths: Pascal Okechukwu, Obinna Iyiegbu, and Emeka Okonkwo
Some people don't want to make it and fake it. They prefer to paint the town red as the money is coming in, and those people are Pascal Okechukwu, Obinna Iyiegbu, and Emeka Okonkwo.
These three young Nigerians are worth about N48 billion, and they allow their money do the talking for them wherever they go.
Okechukwu, Iyiegbu, and Okonkwo made the list of the loudest billion-naira Nigerians, driving the finest cars, living in the most luxurious houses in Nigeria.