The most influential business leaders in Nigeria today have one thing in common.
For starters, they’re all men who at one point or another had strong ties with the power brokers in Abuja. And almost all of them made their fortunes by starting their own companies and maintaining ownership as they soared to success. In fact, three of the 5 on our list are also among the richest men in Africa.
As is the case with their counterparts abroad, the influential businessmen have also channel some funds to causes they care about. Some of the men on this list have donated hundreds of millions to the Internally Displaced People in North-East Nigeria while others have channel funds to help startups.
From older companies such as Dangote Industries and ConOil, to more contemporary companies such as BUA cement and Forte Oil, Nigerian entrepreneurs have reshaped how the continent operates by using what they have to influence policy decisions.
Coming 5th on out list is Femi Otedola. Born 4 November 1962, the Nigerian businessman revolutionized the diesel market to what it is today.
Having carve a niche for himself, the philanthropist shocked the business world when he sold his 75% stake in oil marketing company, Forte Oil.
While many were skeptical about the sudden sale, Otedola reveal he was moving into the more lucrative refining sector of the industry. Otedola’s rise to the top began during the Obasanjo administration and has remain among the top influential business leaders in Nigeria today.
Coming ahead of Otedola in the exclusive club of influential businessmen is Jim Ovia. The banking guru who founded Zenith Bank made his fortune primarily through his shares of the company. Born 1951,
Jim joined the list of influential businessmen during the Obasanjo administration but got closer to the corridor of power during the Jonathan era. His access was so strong that he was credited with picking the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor, CBN, during Jonathan’s administration.
Next on our list is AbdulSamad Isyaku Rabiu. Born into the influential Isyaku Rabiu from Kano State, his father, late Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu was one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists in the 1970s and 1980s. Abdul Samad, who took after his father is the founder and chairman of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate with interests in manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture. With $1.6 billion in his pocket, Rabiu is definitely the go-to-guy when it comes to solving complex issuea.
Otunba Mike Adenuga is the second richest Nigerian person and a multi-billionaire entrepreneur, who is very influential right from the days of former military president Ibrahim Babangida.
During the Obasanjo administration, Adenuga founded “Globacom”, which today is the second-largest telecommunication operator in Nigeria. In Nigeria alone, it has more than 24 million subscribers.
It also has offices in Benin, Ghana, and Cote d’Ivoire. Aside this, the businessman also owns “Conoil Producing” company, which is one of the biggest oil companies in the country. According to Forbes magazine, Adenuga is the second richest man in Africa, giving the first place to Aliko Dangote. He is also the second most influential man in Nigeria.
The last and most important on the list is Aliko Dangote GCON. The businessman is by far the most powerful and influential businessman in Nigeria. The business magnate, investor, and owner of the Dangote Group, has an estimated net worth of US$10.6 billion.
He owns nearly 85% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement through a holding company. The company produces 45.6 million metric tons annually and has operations in 10 countries across Africa. The Kano-state born businessman also owns stakes in publicly-traded salt, sugar and flour manufacturing companies. His influence is expected to skyrocket, when his Refinery (expected to be one of the world’s largest oil refineries) becomes operational later in the year.
Dangote’s closeness to any government in power, makes him a power broker when it comes to political or business decisions. His influence was recently tested, when the Emir of Kano reached out to him to intervene in his clash with Governor Abdullahi Ganduje. Unconfirm reports reveal that Dangote’s intervention saved Emir Muhammadu Sanusi lll from being desposed.
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