Why we love them
by Remmy Diagbare
Like Shakespeare wrote about greatness in one of his classic plays, Macbeth, “Some were born great, while others had greatness thrust upon them”. I am not sure where these twenty wonderful Nigerians we have featured in this piece belong to in the greatness chart; I leave you to figure that out. One thing remains unambiguous they belong to different but are great all the same. Yes, they are great people, great Nigerians.
We have selected them from different strata of society. Each one has contributed immensely to influencing Nigerians in various ways. Is it Oluwole Akinwande, the poet whose ———-, gets you dizzy? Or Asa, the one whose African lyrics hit high notes on the air waves of Champse de Elise in Paris? Or Pastor Enoch Adeboye, whose genteel manner is said to break down the fiercest of strongholds.
These are Nigerian men and women we admire. And, as we continue to celebrate Nigeria at 50, thinking despondent thoughts, these great achievers give us hope: that there is much more to us than what people in citadels of power spew at us. Join us to celebrate these 20 influential Nigerians as part of the achievements of our dear country at 50.
Asa was born in 1982 in Paris. She lived there for two years and after she went to Lagos in Nigeria. Her real name is Bukola Elemide and her nickname Asa means “little hawk” because when she was young she often ran away and changed directions like a hawk.
Her mother was a shopkeeper and her father shot video reports for weddings and that’s how she discovered music more particularly Bob Marley and Fela Kutti’s songs. She has got three brothers.
She is success full thanks to her lyrics which deal with Africa, everyday life things with lots of irony. She is the new singer of soul, pop and reggae music!!!! She is compared to Tracy Chapman.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (born September 15, 1977) is a writer whose first two novels won literary awards. She is a native of Abba, in Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra state. At the age of 19, Adichie left Nigeria and moved to the United States for college. After studying at Drexel University in Philadelphia, she transferred to Eastern Connecticut State University to live closer to her sister, who had a medical practice in Coventry (now in Mansfield, Connecticut). She continued studying communications and political science. She received a university degree from Eastern, where she graduated summa cum laude in 2001.
In 2003, she completed a master’s degree in creative writing at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. In 2008, she received a Master of Arts in African studies at Yale University. Chimamanda is a 2008 MacArthur Fellow.
Adichie had her first novel published in 2003. It received excellent reviews and won a literary award for first books. Her second novel won the 2007 Orange Prize for fiction.
In 2008, Adichie was a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where she participated in Wesleyan’s Distinguished Writers Series.
Her first novel, Purple Hibiscus, was published in 2003 and won the 2005 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book.Her second novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, named after the flag of the short-lived Biafran nation, is set before and during the Biafran War. It was published by Fourth Estate in the UK and by Knopf/Anchor in 2006. It was awarded the 2007 Orange Prize for Fiction.
Her third book, a collection of short stories titled The Thing Around Your Neck, was published in April 2009 by Fourth Estate in the UK and Knopf in the US
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu (born November 21, 1960) is a former Nigerian government anti-corruption official. He was the pioneer Executive Chairman of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the government commission tasked with countering corruption and fraud. In April 2009, he became a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development. He lived in exile until 2010 when he returned to Nigeria and declared his intention to run for President of Nigeria under the platform of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN).
Ribadu studied law at Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria, Kaduna State from 1980 until 1983, receiving a Bachelor of Laws degree. Following a year at the Nigerian Law School, he was called to Bar in 1984. He also earned a Master of Laws degree from the same university. He is a Ted Fellow and currently a Senior Fellow in St. Antony’s College, Oxford University, UK.
Deola Sagoe has given African fashion in the 21st century the most radical expression imaginable, from the deeply rooted African fabrics to perfectly matched accessories. Known for constantly fabulous design o a two-time international award winner creates designs that truly celebrate Africa and Nigeria. Described as the African fashion designer who is ‘’best placed to interpret our cultural diversity and artistry, our earthiness and mystery, our colors warmth and passion of the African woman in her simplicity and elegance,’’
Philip Emeagwali (born in 1954) is an Igbo Nigerian-born engineer and computer scientist/geologist who was one of two winners of the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize, a prize from the IEEE, for his use of a Connection Machine supercomputer to help analyze petroleum fields.
Emeagwali was born in Akure, Nigeria on 23 August 1954. He dropped out of school in 1967 because of the Nigerian-Biafran war. When he turned fourteen, he was conscripted into the Biafran army. After the war he completed a high-school equivalency through self-study and came to the United States to study under a scholarship after taking a correspondence course at the University of London. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977. He was also working as a civil engineer at the Bureau of Land Reclamation in Wyoming during this period.
Chief Emeka Anyaoku served as Commonwealth Secretary-General from 1990 to 2000.
Born Eleazar Chukwuemeka (Emeka) Anyaoku on 18 January 1933 in Obosi, Nigeria, he attended the Merchants of Light School in Oba and (as a College Scholar) the University College of Ibadan, at the time a college of the University of London and from which he obtained an honours degree in Classics. Chief Anyaoku later attended specialist courses in the United Kingdom and France.
In 1959, Emeka Anyaoku joined the Commonwealth Development Corporation. Following Nigeria’s independence, he was invited to join his country’s diplomatic service and, in 1963, was posted to Nigeria’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations in New York.
In 1966, shortly after the establishment of the Commonwealth Secretariat, he was seconded to the new organisation at the request of the first Secretary-General, Arnold Smith of Canada, as Assistant Director of International Affairs, later becoming Director and, in 1975, Assistant Secretary-General. In 1977, Commonwealth governments elected him Deputy Secretary-General with responsibility for international affairs and the Secretariat’s administration.
Nigeria’s civilian government of 1983 called on Chief Anyaoku to become the country’s Foreign Minister. On the overthrow of the Government by the military, he returned to his position as Deputy Secretary-General with the support of the new government in Nigeria and the endorsement of all Commonwealth governments.
At the 1989 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Chief Anyaoku was elected the third Commonwealth Secretary-General. He was re-elected at the 1993 CHOGM in Limassol, Cyprus, for a second five-year term.
Under Chief Anyaoku’s guidance, the Secretariat also launched a variety of important initiatives in sustainable economic and social development, and through the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC), the operational arm of the Secretariat, reinforced the benefits of co-operation and mutual assistance among members.
Oluwole Akinwande was born in Ijebu Isara, Nigeria. He grew up in Abeokuta, where his father was a schoolteacher. He was educated at Abeokuta Grammar School and Government College, Ibadan. He studied at University College, Ibadan ( 1952 –4 ) and then at Leeds University ( 1954 –7 ), where he graduated with an honours degree in English. He has been at various times on the academic staff of the Universities of Lagos, Ibadan, and at Ife, where he was professor of comparative literature and dramatic arts. Between 1973 and 1974 he was overseas fellow, Churchill College, Cambridge, and visiting professor, department of English, University of Sheffield. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986 .
Soyinka’s influence and impact in Africa is evident in drama, poetry, fiction, and autobiography. In addition to his poetical works, he has published two novels, two volumes of autobiographical writing, critical essays, and several plays. He has also edited an impressive anthology, Poems of Black Africa (London, 1975 ). As a consequence of his political activities during the Nigerian Civil War he was detained in August 1967 until October 1969 by the Federal Military Government of Nigeria.
Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (born June 13, 1954) was the former Finance Minister and Foreign Minister of Nigeria, notable for being the first woman to hold either of those positions. She served as finance minister from July 2003 until her appointment as foreign minister in June 2006, and as foreign minister until her resignation in August 2006. Okonjo-Iweala was considered as a possible replacement for former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz. On October 4 2007 she was appointed as Managing Director of the World Bank by World Bank President Robert Zoellick.
Okonjo-Iweala is an Igbo from Ogwashi-Uku, Delta State where her father Professor Chukuka Okonjo is the Obi, or King, from the Umu Obi Obahai Royal Family of Ogwashi-Ukwu.
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was educated at Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude with an A.B. in 1977, and earned her Ph.D. in regional economics and development from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She is married – her husband is from Umuahia, Abia State.
Nnaji found mainstream Nollywood success in 1998. Despite her popularity as an actress, she has consistently added accolades, such as singer, producer and fashion designer to her name. In 2004 she became the face of Lux soap in a highly lucrative sponsorship deal. Among other actors and actresses, she released her first album, titled No More, in 2005, following a one year acting ban. Three years later in May, Nnaji launched her clothing line St. Genevieve which was a huge success as the simple, yet elegant easy-wear clothes.
Oluchi Onweagba (born August 1, 1982) is a model. who grew up in the suburbs of Lagos, Nigeria with her two brothers and sisters. She is the daughter of a civil servant father and mother who was a nurse. When Onweagba was 16 years old, she won the “Face Of Africa” contest. In August 2005, she married her longtime companion, Italian fashion designer Luca Orlandi. Onweagba’s first name comes from the Igbo language and means “God’s Work”.
She was urged by a family friend to enter into the M-Net “Face of Africa” preliminary screening at the M-Net office in Victoria Island, Lagos. The agency groomed her to be one of Nigeria’s entrants for the 1998 competition (now called the Nokia Face of Africa). This despite the fact that, growing up, she had maintained a relative ignorance towards fashion and modeling, but with the support of her family and friends, she decided to compete in the inaugural edition of the Face of Africa in 1998. This was the first-ever continent-wide model competition, organized by the South African channel M-Net in collaboration with Elite Model Management. She won the competition. She was just seventeen years old. Elite Model Management awarded Onweagba a three-year modeling contract.
After moving to New York City, where she still lives, Onweagba graced the covers of Italian Vogue, i-D, ELLE, Untold, and Surface; she also was featured in Nylon, Marie Claire, Allure, and other national editions of Vogue around the world. She became the face of campaigns for Gianfranco Ferré, Gap, Express, Banana Republic, and Ann Taylor, as well as working for Victoria’s Secret. Onweagba’s runway experience has been with John Galliano, Christian Dior, Costume National, Chanel, and Giorgio Armani, amongst others, in London, Milan, Tokyo and Paris. She has worked with such notable photographers as Steven Meisel, Nick Knight, and Patrick Demarchelier.
Ibiagbanidokibubo ‘Agbani’ Asenite Darego (born December 22, 1982) is a model, best known as the first black African to be crowned Miss World in 2001.
Darego hails from Abonnema, Rivers, and was born into a family of eight children. At ten, Darego was sent to boarding school in a bid to shield her from her mother who had breast cancer. Darego’s mother died two years later, and her daughter has spoken of how the loss prepared her for the future.
As a teenager, Darego longed to be a model. Although her conservative father was against the idea, she entered the M-Net Face of Africa modelling competition, but failed to make it past the first round. She achieved greater success when she was crowned Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria in 2001. Contrary to popular belief, Darego did not replace Valerie Peterside after the latter was dethroned – Peterside had won Miss Nigeria. Darego managed to divide her time between her official duties with her education at the University of Port Harcourt where she was studying Computer Science, and she represented Nigeria in the 2001 Miss Universe competition, held in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. She placed among the top 10 semi-finalists, finishing seventh. She was the only black semi-finalist that year – and the only finalist to wear a maillot swimsuit.]
In November 2001, Darego was crowned Miss World, beating Miss Scotland and Miss Aruba in the final round. Her victory in the pageant was widely welcomed in her home country, and her reign as MBGN was continued by Ann Suinner. Her one year tenure included goodwill trips and scheduled appearances on behalf of the pageant.
Darego left the University of Port Harcourt after her reign as Miss World ended in 2002, and is now studying Psychology at the New York University. She is signed to Next Model Management, and is currently pursuing a modelling career in Europe. In 2002 she was a spokesperson for L’Oréal cosmetics. In 2006, a catwalk model believed to be Darego posed topless at a fashion show], causing outrage in Nigeria. Darego has made no comment. Darego is currently working on a fashion reality show, soon to be aired on Nigerian television.
Babatunde Raji Fashola (born June 28, 1963) is the thirteenth governor of Lagos State, Nigeria. As a candidate of the Action Congress party, Fashola succeeded his predecessor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in April 14, 2007, and was sworn in on May 29, 2007.
Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN) is a descendant of the patriarch of the Fashola family, Alfa Bello Fashola of Princess Street in Isale Gangan, Lagos. On the Fashola family tree, he is the great grandson of Bello Fashola, a philanthropist and a very close friend of Esugbayi Eleko, who contributed morally and financially to the struggle to return Esugbayi Eleko to Lagos after the Oba’s banishment from his kingdom by the then colonial government. Bello Fashola had 137 children with Tiamiyu Bashorun Fashola as the eldest child. The direct linkage is as follows: Bello Fashola begat Tiamiyu Fashola, who begat Raji Olayinka Fashola, who begat Ademola Fashola who begat Babatunde Raji Fashola.
He is also linked to Isale Eko through his paternal grandmother who is a direct descendant of the Shomade/Bashua family of Obun Eko and Suenu chieftaincy family house. His paternal great, great grandmother was Jarinatu Okunnu from Isale Eko Onilegbe family whilst his maternal great grandmother is from Idumagbo Isale Eko of the Suenu Chieftaincy family.
Babatunde Raji Fashola was born in Lagos on June 28, 1963. He attended Birch Freeman High school Lagos and Igbobi College Lagos. He studied Law at the University of Benin from where he graduated with a Bachelor of Laws, LL.B.(Hon), degree in 1987.
He is married to Mrs. Abimbola Emmanuela Fashola and they have children.
Adenike ‘Nike’ Oshinowo-Soleye is a Nigerian businesswoman and socialite, currently reviving the Miss Nigeria pageant.
Oshinowo was raised in Ibadan and England, where she attended boarding school. Although she had intended to become an air hostess or a doctor, she studied Politics at the University of Essex. Shortly after obtaining her degree, Oshinowo, who was mentored by former Miss Nigeria Helen Prest-Davies, represented Rivers at the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria pageant and emerged winner.
After her reign, which saw her compete at Miss World, Oshinowo featured in a commercial for Venus cosmetics and hosted a fashion and beauty show on Nigerian television. Her business ventures included an African restaurant and Skin Deep, a health and beauty spa which ran for seven years before it was sold after she decided to create her own range of beauty products for the Nigerian market. In January 17 2010, she released the workout video Nike Oshinowo: Fit, Forty and Fabulous – the first celebrity fitness DVD produced in the country – and is currently working on the beauty products which will include fragrance, skincare, and haircare.
Now in her forties, Oshinowo, who is fluent in five languages including Japanese and French, is hailed as a style icon in her homeland. Although she had stated in previous interviews that she had no plans to become a wife, Oshinowo is now married to medical doctor Tunde Soleye. In 2009, the couple was in the news following a lawsuit instituted by Soleye’s ex-wife Funmilayo, who claimed that he had been unfaithful with Oshinowo during their marriage.
In 2010, after a six-year attempt, Oshinowo-Soleye finally bought the Miss Nigeria franchise from former organisers Daily Times, and is chief executive and creative director of the pageant.
Alhaji Aliko Dangote (born April 10, 1957) is a businessman based in Nigeria. He is the owner of the Dangote Group, which has operations in Nigeria and several other countries in West Africa. A wealthy supporter of erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo and the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Dangote controls much of Nigeria’s commodities trade through his corporate and political connections. With an estimated current net worth of around US$ 2.5 billion, he was ranked by Forbes as one of the richest black African citizens  and the third richest person of African descent in the world behind Mohammed Al Amoudi ($9.0 billion) and Oprah Winfrey ($2.7 billion.) 
The Dangote Group, originally a small trading firm founded in 1977, is now a multi-trillion naira conglomerate with operations in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. Dangote’s businesses include food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group dominates the sugar market in Nigeria: it is the major sugar supplier to the country’s soft drink companies, breweries, and confectioners. Dangote Group has moved from being a trading company to Nigeria’s largest industrial group, including Dangote Sugar Refinery (the most capitalized company on the Nigeria Stock Exchange, valued at over US$3 billion with Aliko Dangote’s equity topping US$2 billion), Africa’s largest Cement Production Plant: Obajana Cement, Dangote Flour amongst others.
Nwankwo Kanu (born August 1, 1976 in Owerri, Kanu Nwankwo is a professional football |footballer, currently playing for West Bromwich Albion F. C. West Bromwich Albion in the English Premier League. He is known for his height, which is 198 cm (6’6″).
Kanu began his career, aged fifteen, at first division club Federation Works before moving to Iwuanyanwu National in 1992. After a notable performance at the Football U-17 World Championship|U-17 World Championships he was
signed by Ajax Amsterdam in 1993 for $250,000. He made his Ajax debut in 1994 and went on to play 54 times for the Netherlands|Dutch side, scoring 25 goals. In 1996, Ajax sold him to Internazionale Inter Milan for around $4.7
million; that summer he played in the Nigeria national football team|Nigerian squad that won gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics Olympics. Kanu was named African Footballer of the Year for that year.
At Inter a medical examination revealed a serious heart defect; he underwent surgery in November 1996 to replace an aortic valve and did not return to his club until April 1997. In February 1999, after just twelve games for Inter, Kanu was signed by Arsenal F. C. Arsenal for roughly $7.5 million. Initially his career was revived under ArsÃ¨ne Wenger, and he was named African Footballer of the Year for the second time in 1999.
Kanu’s appearances for Arsenal gradually became less frequent, and in the 2004 offseason, after failing to get his contract with Arsenal extended, he moved to West Bromwich Albion F. C. West Brom on a free transfer. Kanu played for Nigeria in the Football World Cup 1998 and Football World Cup 2002 World Cups.
Kanu is remembered for his classic hat-trick against Chelsea F. C. Chelsea, in which one of the goals was scored parallel to the goal line.
Biodun Shobanjo is the CEO of the new [reality tv series, The Apprentice Africa. Born some 63 years ago to a peripatetic civil servant, the Shobanjo family’s peregrinations imbued the young man with a cosmopolitan world view and his early experience as a broadcaster prepared him for life as an advertising practitioner.
Biodun Shobanjo, who rose to the post of Deputy Managing Director of Grant Advertising before his 30th birthday, co-founded Insight Communications (now Insight Grey) in 1979 and has today grown the company from the initial 18 man strong team into an advertising behemoth.
The Troyka Group which is the holding company for Insight, SKG2, Optimum Exposure, Media Perspective, MediaCom, Quadrant and Halogen amongst others employs over seven thousand Nigerian men and women.
Biodun Shobanjo attributes his success to a fierce determination and a steely can-do attitude. “I was young when I left Grant advertising and young people are very daring, so it didn’t cross my mind that I wouldn’t make it. Again, without meaning to be immodest, I really have never failed in my life. If you’re not used to failing you don’t even contemplate failure.”
The ever dapper and sartorially elegant man of style says there are four essential elements for success and he lists them as “Professionalism. The other is honour. The third is integrity. The fourth is passion. They come in any order but if you have these four things, chances are that you’re going to succeed.” A consummate advertising and marketing communications practitioner, Biodun Shobanjo is a perfect choice for the CEO of The Apprentice Africa because as a believer in people, his business style has favoured a mentoring ambience which has spawned protégés who are leading lights of the advertising and marketing communications industry in Nigeria.
Today, the top 10 CEOs of the top 10 advertising and marketing communications outfits in Nigeria are proud alumni of what admirers love to refer to as the “Insight University.” Biodun Shobanjo brings to the Apprentice Africa almost forty years of top-notch corporate experience, entrepreneurial savvy, multi-disciplinary industry experience and a business maxim founded squarely on the belief that success is not negotiable. As he loves to say: “Winning is not everything. It is the only thing!”
P-Square are a Nigerian R&B duo composed of identical twin brothers Peter and Paul Okoye. The story of P-Square began in St. Murumba College, a small Catholic school in Jos, Nigeria. Identical twins Peter and Paul joined their school music and drama club where they began singing, dancing, and miming songs by MC Hammer, Bobby Brown and Michael Jackson.
They later formed an a cappella quartet called “MMMPP” (M Clef a.k.a Itemoh, Michael, Melvin, Peter and Paul). Drawing inspiration from their music idol Michael Jackson, they began break dancing, formed the group called “Smooth Criminals” in 1997. They droped M Clef from the group “MMMPP” which later was changed to “MMPP”. Their artistic talent and precise dance routine soon made them household names in the city of Jos, where they performed at school functions and other occasions.
Later in 1999, Peter and Paul returned to music school to develop their skills on keyboard, drums, bass and rhythm guitar. Their work includes the soundtracks for a number of films like Tobi, Mama Sunday, Moment of Bitterness and Evas River.
Later in 1999, they applied to the University of Abuja to study Business Administration. The Smooth Criminals disbanded when its members left to various other universities. Subsequently Peter and Paul formed their own group, variously called “Double P”, “P&P”, and “Da Pees”, until they eventually settled on “P Square”. They are managed by Bayo Odusami aka Howie T, a seasoned concert promoter and the CEO of Adrot Nigeria Limited.
In 2001, “P-Square” won the “Grab Da Mic” competition, and hence Benson & Hedges sponsored their debut album, titled Last Nite, which was released under Timbuk2 music label. P-Square was also nominated as “Most Promising African Group” in the Kora Awards three months after the release of their debut album. They eventually won the 2003 Amen Award for “Best R&B Group”.
In 2005, P Square released their second album, Get Squared under their own label, Square Records. This album was marketed nationwide by TJoe Enterprises, although they were still managed by Howie T of Adrot Nigeria Limited. The video for the second album held the #1 position on the MTV Base chart for four straight weeks.
They have an ever growing fan base across South Africa with a particular stronghold of die-hard fans in Cape Town.
The group has performed alongside the following international artists like Ginuwine, Sean Paul, Akon and Busola Keshiro. The members of P Square are now located in Lagos.
Late in 2007, they released their best selling album so far, Game Over. It has sold 8 million copies worldwide.
In 2009, P-Square released their fourth studio album, Danger. The album features collaborations with 2face Idibia, J Martins and Frenzy. The first single called “Danger” is a hip hop song with cutting synths and a frog bass baseline similar to an Eminem song. The video affirms this with the presence of clowns and staggered movements in front of the camera reminiscent of comical videos by Eminem. They are also known for the close resemblance which the twins have to American R&B Superstar, Usher Raymond.
On 4 April 2010, P-Square was named the Artist of the Year at the KORA All Africa Music Awards in Ouagadougou, Burkina-Faso while they were in London for a Concert at the Troxy, and they will receive a whopping sum of $1 Million Dollars as the Award Winners, in Ebebiyin City.
CHIEF MICHAEL ADENUGA – Chairman Chief Executive Officer of Globacom.
Adenuga’s rise to wealth and accompanying fame is an interesting story. His resolve to succeed against all odds started when, while in America, he worked as a taxi driver and security guard to sustain himself in school.
Born on April 29, 1953, Michael Adeniyi Isola Adenuga had his secondary school education at the Ibadan Grammar School, Ibadan, Oyo State, before proceeding to the North-Western University in Oklahoma and Pace University, New York, both in the United States where he studied business administration.
At age 26, Adenuga had already become a millionaire with connections in high places. With his unique flair for risks and sheer tenacity of purpose, in no time he started reaping profits in billions. He owns Equitorial Trust Bank and Consolidated Oil, which carries out crude oil drilling, refining and marketing.
He won the bid in August 2002 through his Globacom Limited. The SNO has a wider range of operations as Globacom has the right to operate as a national carrier, operate digital mobile lines, serve as international gateway for telecommunications in the country and operate fixed wireless access phones.
Adenuga’s estate business and company shares traverse several countries in Western Europe, North America and the Middle-East.
have four children
Enoch Adejare Adeboye is a Pastor from Nigeria and General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG)
Before joining the pentecostal church Adeboye was a mathematics lecturer, and worked at the universities of Lagos and Ilorin; He has a PhD in applied mathematics from the University of Lagos, hitting a successful career in the academic world. After he joined The Redeemed Christian Church Of God he began working to translate the sermons of its then Pastor and founder, Rev. Josiah Olufemi Akindayomi, from Yoruba into English.
In 1981 by Divine Providence Adeboye became the General Overseer of The Redeemed Christian Church Of God, making him leader of the Church after the death of Papa Akindayomi the previous year. For three years he filled the role part-time, still lecturing at Ilorin, until giving up his university position to preach full-time.
The Church, which was not well known before Adeboye took charge, now claims branches in over a hundred countries, including more than 14,000 in Nigeria. Adeboye has stated that his aim is to put a church within five minutes of every person on Earth.
In 2008 Newsweek magazine named Adeboye one of the fifty most powerful people in the world. He is married to Foluke Adeboye, also a pastor, with whom he has children.