There are many families in Nigeria that qualify as “Old Money”. They are “Old Money” simply because the wealth of the families has lasted more than one generation. The term typically describes a class of the super-rich, who have been able to maintain their wealth across multiple generations.
In some societies like that found in Europe and America, you could find a family sustaining a social class and wealth status over centuries. The Du Point family fortune is reputed to have begun around 1800s.
The Vanderbilt family made their fortune in the railroad industry and they have remained a prominent wealthy family in the United States for well over 200 years.
While it is hard to trace any family riches as old as 200 years down the line some families in Nigeria qualify as Old Money because their wealth have passed from one generation to the next and going on through to the third generation, growing bigger or just remaining pretty much the same while others have been slipping down the line but still respectable enough to be reckoned with.
Perhaps one of the oldest money families in Nigeria are the Dantata family, the Folawiyos, the Tejuoshos, the Fajemirokuns, the Sarakis, the Igbinedions, the Ibrus and a few others.
Although many of these so-called Old Money families do not rank as high on the list of the Top 50 richest Nigerians as they once did, their wealth continues to grow. Many of these families have been able to increase their holdings by investment strategies in diverse sectors of the economy without being too relevant in any particular corporation or company.
In most cases, the fortune of a family started with one individual who broke free from lowly social class to attain higher social status by gaining financial freedom through individual ingenuity, commitment and drive.
The individual, who may be regarded as the scion of the family bloodline, after achieving the financial feat of being seen as a wealthy man, is seen as an outsider by those who were rich or inherited wealth before he accumulated his wealth.
In other words, every old money was a new money at one time or another. ‘Old Money”, or the Nouveau riche, as the French call it refers to a person who has acquired considerable wealth within his or her generation.
The term is generally used to emphasised that the individual was previously part of lower socioeconomic rank, and that such wealth has provided the means for the acquisition of goods or luxuries that were previously unobtainable.
In some societies where there is a kind of institutionalized social class stratification like in England for an instance, the people of Old Money tend to regard the people of New Money with certain sense of derision.
In fact the term “New Money” can be used in a derogatory fashion, for the purposes of social class distinction, to describe persons with newfound wealth as vulgar- lacking the experience or value system to utilise wealth in the same manner as Old Money.
In the Nigerian society there is no known animosity between people of Old Money and people of the New Money. The Late M.K.O. Abiola amassed considerable wealth, coming from a background of almost abject poverty there is no record anywhere that he had any trouble getting assimilated into the upper crust circle of the super rich.
The Esama of Benin Kingdom Chief Gabriel Igbinedion, after the death of his father had problem continuing his education but today the empire built by the High Chief may very well last into many millenniums
The Old Money families in Nigeria
The Dantata family is perhaps the “Oldest Money” in Nigeria with the family fortune dated as far back as in the late 1800s. The Tejuoshos’ money started not by the popular and regal Osile of Oke-Ona but by his mother, Chief Bisoye Tejuosho and their son, Femi is keeping that flag flying..
The late Baba Adinni of Nigeria, Alhaji Iyanda Folawiyo, made fortunes in his lifetime but a good start in life must have been bequeathed to him by his father who was also a wealthy man in his own time.
A number of who could be considered Old Money families in Nigeria are just beginning to go through the second generation, after the individual who made the difference in the family bloodline has just handed over to the next generation.
In this group are the Subomi Baloguns, the Igbinedions, the Abachas, the Adebowales, the children of Bode Akindele, the family of Mike Adenuga, the children of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the children of Arthur Nzeribe, the family of M.K.O.
Abiola, the children of Chief David Dafinone, the Odowus, the Ojoras, the Edoziens, the Onosodes and many too many to mentioned. But some of the oldest Money family are;
The Dantata family
The wealth of the Dantata family started with one unique individual called Alhassan Dantata, who was even by the standard of his days far from being a silverspoon. Born in 1880 to a mother who was a petty trader, Alhassan, started supporting the family early by peddling kolanuts in the streets of Kano.
In matters of years the young Alhassan mastered the trade and in fact became the largest licensed produce buying agent of not only kolanut but also groundnut in Nigeria. So widespread was his business tentacles that almost every piece of business must have his signature to really be of any substance.
His empire continued and blossomed under one of his sons, Abdulkadir Sanusi Dantata who co-founded Dantata and Sawoe and Asada Farms. Now in its third-fourth generation, the Dantata family have continued to show their domination in business and social lives.
Though the family may have been edged aside in the North and indeed in Nigeria to the likes of Aliko Dangotes, the Babangidas, the Abachas, the Indimis, the Mutallabs etc but then even Aliko Dangote family, reputed to be the richest in Africa now have the Dantata family to thank for their break in business.
Aliko Dangote’s mother, Mariya Dantata was the grand-daughter of businessman Alhassan Dantata, and his father Mohammed Dangote was Dantata’s business associate. In fact there is a story that it was Sanussi Dantata’s N500,000 loan
to Aliko Dangote that saw the acclaimed Africa’s richest man on his way.
The Dantata family are still pretty much up there. The leading beacon of the family, Sayyu Dantata is still being regarded as one of the richest Nigerians. He founded the MRS Group and only recently took up controlling stakes in Texaco and Chevron.
The Folawiyo Family
Late Alhaji Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo surely took the Folawiyo name into the league of billionaire families but not without help from his father, Pa Tijani Folawiyo, a wealthy local merchant, during the British colonial era.
His father, Pa Tijani was said to be very wealthy and started off young Wahab in the right direction. He was so important in the business circle in Lagos in the 1930s that the business of import and export which Alhaji Iyanda Folawiyo perfected, could not be discharged with any seriousness without his involvement. Late Wahab Iyanda Folawiyo would however be credited with founding of Yinka Folawiyo & Sons, an import and export business.
If Pa Tijani Folawiyo was a wealthy local merchant Chief Wahab Folawiyo was a global one with a business empire with holdings in shipping, banking, construction, agriculture and energy. Little wonder that the flag bearer of the family name now, Babatunde Tijani Folawiyo should take the name of his grand-father.
Tunde, a lawyer by profession is the third generation in the Folawiyo dynasty and he is doing a swell job of it. In 2010 he was honoured with African Business Leadership Award for his giant business strides in various sectors of the economy.
The Tejuosho family The Tejuosho family name connotes big money, great style and royalty. It is a family name that has remained with opulence ring to its importance for over 50 years.
The Osile of Oke-Ona, Oba Dapo Tejuosho might have met wealth in the family and worked even more to add more wealth to the family name but the relevance of his mother, Chief (Mrs) Bisoye Tejuosho cannot pass the stage of life unsung.
In fact the generation of the Tejuosho bloodline as Money people started with that industrious woman from a humble royal background. She raised the family financial status by trading in foodstuff until becoming an agent for the United
African Company, and in later years, added Vono industries to her list of suppliers. She became very successful during this period and acquired real estate in various parts of the country.
The family flagship company, Teju Foam was founded by her. Her son, Oba Adedapo Tejuosho, the second line in the aristocratic Tejuosho family raised the bar by diversifying into other areas of business. Now, Femi Tejuosho has taken over from the monarch and one can be sure the Tejuosho wealth will remain for years to come.
The Fajemirokun Family
Everybody knows Chief Dele Fajemirokun as an astute businessman who has his hands in many juicy business pies. His wand controls AIICO Insurance, Xerox Nigeria, Chicken Republic, Kings Guards and many more. Make a list of 100 richest Nigerians and Chief Dele Fajemirokun is sure to pop up somewhere along the line. His wealth his so solid because he has been around for so long. In fact his father, Henry Fajemirokun started the wildfire of businesses which flame is still being seen everywhere.
Henry Oloyede Fajemirokun, steered the Fajemirokun name along the tide where only billionaires surf. He took over the Henry Stephen Group and later spread his tentacles into Johnson Wax, Fan Milk and became sole distributor of Xerox.
The Fajemirokun wealth may soon begin its third generation reign as Bisola Fajemirokun may take over from his dad, Chief Dele Fajemirokun.
The New Money Families
The New Money families can hardly be regarded as families, they are simply names who rose from being ordinary citizens to becoming special ones who not only dine with presidents and kings they also control the economic pulse of the nation with feelers reaching into the international plexuses. They had no help, no hand, no pat at the back, they only took a plunge, a plunge that landed them in waters filled with billions of Naira.
They are the Jimoh Ibrahims, the Ifeanyi Ubas, the Fola Adeolas, the Tony Elumelus, the Leo Stan Ekehs, the Jim Ovias of this country. All these guys had humble beginnings and had to fight for every ounce of bread life brought on their tables.
They are in the first generation of their wealth dynasty. There are no heirs in sight, ready to take the baton from them to
continue the race. They are in their prime and their wealth have become so considerable their names run in the top 20 of the richest in the country.
Jimoh Ibrahim is the super tycoon who oversees a vast empire with dominions in aviation, insurance, media and hospitality. Ifeanyi Uba is the oil and gas champion. Leo Stan Ekeh has pioneered computer manufacturing and calling the shots in IT while Elumelu and Adeola have left huge footprints in the banking sands of time.
The Second Generation Old Money
These are names that have moved from being mere names into big money family names. Most of them are about passing the buck to heirs waiting in the ranks to continue building the family empires.
They are the Babangida family, Abacha family, the Adenuga family, the Ibru family, the Igbinedion family, the Odogwu family, the Dangote family, the Akinnola family, the Damcida family, the Wushishi family, the Dafinone family, the Babalakin family, the Obasanjo family, the Shagaya family, the Atiku Abubakar family, the Okoya family, the Adedoyin family, the Subomi Balogun family and many others.
New Money Vs Old Money:
Old Money or New Money the situation which is prevalent everywhere these days is that the New Money are taking over from the Old Money. Though the people of Old Money have continued to maintain their wealth and social standing but it
is the New Money that are running things.
Take banking for an instance, the names you would hear running the show are not the Tejuoshos, the Fajemirokuns, the Folawiyos, or the Dantatas the name you hear are the Elumelus, the Jim Ovias, the Fola Adeolas, the new breed, but that it not to say a handful of the Old Money do not have their own share.
According to an undisclosed millionaire, the New Money people have only risen because the Old Money provided them the platform. His view is that The Old Money get complacent with time and only thrive by their dependence on the drive of the New Money to make money for them.
Even the list of the richest men in the world has the New Money people shuffling the Old Money people down to the very bottom of the list.
Look at the oil industry, apart from Sayyu from the old stock who has eaten into the pile of Chevron and Texaco, the names you hear are the new wolfhound billionaires like Ifeanyi Uba, Femi Otedola, Jimoh Ibrahim and the likes.
In aviation, communications, real estate, insurance, export and import, the New Money are calling the shots while the Old Money people are just tagging along. No doubt some of their heirs are having a respectable showing in some sectors there is hardly any one of them up there rubbing shoulders with the very richest in the country.
The Old money people might have bought almost the whole of Ikoyii the new breed are building their heaven on earth in Banana Island, even beating the oceans into retreat.