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Top oil magnates living it up

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By Ayo Onikoyi

Nigeria has its share of billionaires; men who amassed their wealth through hardwork, resilience and uncommon vision. Many of them came off the street and took to the sea, weathering every bad storm life has willed their ways to reach the shores of Eldorado.

Others might appear to have taken the elevator while their peers were walking up many flight of stairs to reach the top but yet that ingenuity to see opportunities where others could behold nothing cannot be taken away from them.

Their histories do not matter. What matters is the height they have reached. They are the men savouring the enchanting taste of our sweet crude.

In their own ways, they have kept the wheel of our national ship moving. Many of them have foundations who have come handy to many Nigerians in need and without doubt they remain one of the highest employers of labour in the country. They are so many but here are a few:

Aliko Dangote
Aliko Dangote has come to be known as a man of rare feats. As if being the richest man in Africa is not enough, the Federal Government of Nigeria bestowed on him Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, a  honour reserved for only Vice Presidents.

Dangote shot into the world’s reckoning when American Magazine, Forbes listed him as one of the richest men in the world. That was in 2009 and Dangote was in the middle of the pack in number 463. Two years after, the cement and sugar merchant shot into 51st place, a position which saw him surging 557%, making him the world’s biggest gainer in percentage terms and Africa’s richest individual.

Dangote Cement was reported to have done the magic but his investment in oil and gas cannot be overlooked. He is reported to own 25% equity shares in MRS Oil owned by his cousin, Sayyu Dantata, which just bought the controlling share in Chevron Nigeria Limited. Though he is not a very flamboyant person,  the billionaire recently spoiled himself with acquisition of $45 million Bombardier aircraft for his birthday.

Adenuga and Dangote

Mike Adenuga
Telecom mogul and oil magnate, Dr. Mike Adenuga is ranked 5th richest person in Africa. His total assets was put at 4.3 billion dollars but his interests in oil and telecom was not put into consideration. Only his fortune in banking was used in the rating. But everyone who knows the Adenuga empire knows the bank is just a fraction of his immense fortune. His telecom company, Globacom, is only second in size to MTN in Nigeria.

The thrust of his business started with oil when he bought over the government’s National Oil and re-christened it Conoil. Today, Conoil Producing is one of the largest oil exploration companies in Nigeria, producing an estimated 100,000 barrels per day.

Some years back, he was reported to have outbidden Aliko Dangote for an oil block. Conoil is reputed to be one of the few indigenous companies to have clinched Shell’s Oil Mining Lease (OML) 30.

He is a recluse of sort. He moves about in customised bullet-proof cars with a platoon of bodyguards. He owns a private jet as well and he is considered the highest property owner in the ‘billionaires playground’ known as Banana Island in Ikoyi, Lagos.

Theophilus Danjuma
Theophilus Danjuma, former Defense Minister, after his military career went into business. His investment in the oil and gas sector is immense. He is rated 21st richest person in Africa by Forbes magazine. He is the Chairman of South Atlantic Petroleum, SAPETRO, an oil exploration company.

• Rtd Gen. T. Y. Danjuma

In 2006, Danjuma was reported to have sold an oil block he was given by the regime of Sanni Abacha to a consortium of Chinese investors for $1.7 billion. His net worth is put at $600 million. When he sold the oil block, he established a foundation with $100 million for the  pure purpose of philanthropy.

Oba Otudeko
Oba Otudeko,  a fellow of  the Chartered Institute of Bankers, United Kingdom, Institute of Chartered and Corporate Accountants with honours amongst others is currently rated 24th richest man in Africa by Forbes magazine. His holding company, Honeywell Group, has a subsidiary, Honeywell Oil and Gas Limited which is a major player in the downstream oil and gas industry.

Honeywell Oil & Gas Limited primarily engages in procurement, importation and distribution of fuels and gases as well as production and marketing of lubricants to industrial, automotive and domestic customers.

Oba Otudeko, who seems to have a hand in every business recently floated top of the draw hotel in highbrow Victoria Island, the Radisson Blu. His son Adedamola is keeping an eye on his interest at First Bank of Nigeria, as a director, where Otudeko also  held fort for many  years as chairman.

Mohammed Indimi
Distinguished and highly successful businessman, Dr. Mohammed Indimi is the sole founder and Chairman of Oriental Energy Resources, Limited.

He has over 20 years’ experience in the Nigerian Upstream Oil and Gas sector. Dr. Indimi, who is currently rated as the 30th richest man in Africa by Forbes magazine is an astute business man with a notable presence in the international business arena.

Oriental Energy, founded in 1990, has expanded its portfolio and currently has three assets under development in Offshore Nigeria. These include the Ebok Field (OML 67), Okwok Field (OML 67, and OML 115). He is an in-law of former president Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and Sani Dangote, brother of Aliko Dangote

Wale Tinubu
When Oando CEO and nephew of Governor Bola Tinubu, Wale Tinubu covers the second issue of Forbes Africa magazine where he was referred to as the “The King of African Oil,” it only brought to fore the grip the Lagosian has in the African oil market.


A very quiet person, almost without social life, Wale started his growth in the oil business at Ocean and Oil Services before entrenching himself as a don in the oil and gas industry. The company he runs, Oando Plc, is a major oil products distribution company. He made  society news last year when he bought his mother, Alhaja Bintu Tinubu, a Honda CRV 2009 model car for her 65th birthday.

Femi Otedola
Femi Otedola is the billionaire owner of multi-billion naira indigenous oil giant Zenon. Zenon, which is directly run by Otedola is the dominant force in diesel business among oil marketing concerns. It supplies this all important fuel used to power the generating sets of most Nigerian industries to nearly all the major manufacturing firms in the country.

He is also the CEO of African Petroleum Plc, and at one time appeared as one of only two Nigerians (alongside Aliko Dangote) to appear on the 2009 Forbes list of 793 dollar-denominated billionaires in the world, with an estimated net worth of over US$1.2 billion. How his name has disappeared on the list of Forbes Africa’s richest 40 may be a pointer to the gist making the rounds that the billionaire has been embroiled in a series of debt mess, causing a downturn in his business fortunes.

Uduimo Itsueli
It is no surprise that Chief  Uduimo Itsueli has turned out to be one of the leading oil magnates in the country. He must have caught the virus for running successful oil ventures at Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) where he was the Managing Director for many years.

He is the chairman, Dubril Oil Company Limited, an indigenous oil prospecting company which is a major player in the industry.

Lulu Briggs
High Chief Lulu Briggs is the chairman and founder of Moni Pulo Limited (MPL) which  operates as sole risk, the Oil Mining License OML 114 (ex OPL 230) located in the shallow marine waters offshore the coast of Nigeria, 30 km south of the city of Calabar.

The OPL 230 was awarded in May 1992. OML 114 is located in the eastern lobe of the tertiary Niger-Delta play in the south-south region of Nigeria.

Production from the wells is through two production platforms installed on the developed Abana field-Abana East and West respectively.

MPL’s production assets also include the Agbani Floating Production Facility (FPF) complete with water injection facilities to process oil and gas from OML 114.

Rilwan Lukman
Afren Plc is an oil company in which Rilwanu Lukman was a former chairman  and founder . His stake in the company is less than 3%.

The company owns subsidiaries in various African countries of which Nigeria is one of them. Though the family of late George Enemoh (the wife, Grace Enenmoh is the Managing Director) runs the company, the influence of the former Petroleum Minister at several occasions and former Secretary General of OPEC (Oil and Petroleum Exporting Countries) cannot be overlooked.

Colonel Sani Bello
Colonel. Muhammed Sani Bello, former military governor of Kano state became involved with various companies as chairman or director, after his retirement from the service; including former Broad bank Nigeria Ltd, Globe Re Nigeria Ltd, Law Union and Rock Insurance Company Plc, Amni International Petroleum Development Company Ltd, Dantata and Sawoe Construction Company Ltd, MTN Communications Ltd, Equatel Communication Ltd and the President of National Association of Indigenous Petroleum Explorers in Nigeria.

OML 112 (formerly OPL 469), is located in the eastern part of the Niger Delta. The block was awarded to Amni International Petroleum Development Company on a sole risk basis on the 24th of August 1993.

It covers an area of 437SqKm. OML 117 (formerly OPL 237) is similarly located. It was awarded to Amni on the 13th of October 1994 as OPL 237, and was converted to OML 117 for a term of 20 years on 6th August 1999. It covers 50SqKm.

Stella Oduah
Before joining the Federal cabinet of President Goodluck Jonathan as the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah was the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sea Petroleum and Gas (SPG), a company she founded almost singlehandedly.

Stella Oduah

Born on January 5, 1962 in Onitsha, Anambra State, Stella knew exactly what she wanted from her early age. After her studies at St. Paul’s College, Lawrence Ville, Virginia in the United States in 1983, Oduah joined the Nigeria National Petroleum Company (NNPC) where she probably came up with the idea and the right connection to own her own oil company.

Ifeanyi Ubah
If nobody had heard of Ifeanyi Ubah, that would have changed since September last year when adverts heralding the celebration of his 40th birthday took over the front pages of major newspapers in the country.

His company, Capital Oil and Gas  Industries is  said to have the biggest and the most modern state-of-the-art depot in Nigeria. With 28 truck loading bays, Capital Oil and Gas Industry Ltd is the only indigenous downstream player capable of pumping out 55million litres of petroleum products per day.

Bola Shagaya
The businesswoman, who  is a celebrated personality at social functions started her career at the Audit Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria, before venturing into commercial activities in 1983.

She started business with the importation and distribution of photographic materials. She introduced the Konica branch of photographic materials into the Nigerian market and the West Africa Coast.

Ifeanyi Uba

As a woman of many means who has far-reaching connections in the highest of places, she ventured into the oil industry. She is the Managing Director  of Pract Oil Limited, a respectable player in the oil industry

Sayyu Dantata
Sayyu Dantata, a chip off the old block of the Dantata family has come to establish himself as a major player in the Oil and Gas sector. His passport to the nation’s sweet crude is the MRS which recently acquired major shares in multi national company Texaco/Chevron.

The list continues with the likes of Tunde Folawiyo who is running Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum; His Royal Highness Oba Federick Obateru Akinrutan, the Olugbo of Igbo in Ondo State, Chairman, Obat Oil; Cletus Ibeto of Ibeto Oil, the Rahamaniyya brothers, who own Rahamaniyya Group and a host of others.

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