A toast to Mike Adenuga at 65
Observing birthdays has Biblical references in Genesis, Jeremiah, Job, Mark and Matthew, among others. However, observance of birthday varies depending on the conviction and disposition of individuals. One Nigerian who has every reason to yearly celebrate his birthday is the Chairman of Globacom and Conoil, Otunba Mike Adenuga (Jr.). However, if antecedents are anything to go by, Mike Adenuga should be marking his sixty-fifth birthday today, April 29, 2018 in his characteristic manner devoid of anything extraordinary, pomp and pageantry!
Albeit, one of the richest Africans by any stretch of imagination, he is publicity-shy as he prefers to work himself to incredible extent by nurturing his empire to greater heights. I reckon on this occasion of his 65th birthday, the media, especially the print will be agog with congratulatory messages to celebrate this unique business crusader whose success has been resting on uncommon commitment, perseverance, doggedness, sacrifice, sagacity, maturity and foresightedness. However, my bet is he may just take the day as a day he should work, play squash, be in the gymnasium or at best, spend with his close friends.
Born of Ijebu Igbo parents, he spent his childhood years in Ibadan and attended Ibadan Grammar School. Thereafter, he was in Oklahoma, United States of America for his tertiary education. He returned to Nigeria in the mid-seventies to partake in the booming economic activities of the period and through ‘knowledge acquisition, close-marking’ and Providence he has since made a success of his various business endeavours to the extent that he is the second richest African. Otunba Mike Ishola Adeniyi Adenuga (Jr.) has become a business colossus and the barometer for benchmarking the country’s economic and philanthropic landscape, and indeed, that of Africa.
This business mogul who believes it is easier and better for him to ‘add values to issues’ is a calculated risk adventurer. The advent of the Global System for Mobile Communications in Nigeria saw the irrepressible and enigmatic Mike Adenuga (Jr.) floating what is to date, the only indigenous telecommunications company, Globacom Limited to challenge the earlier three entrants- Zain (now Airtel), MTN, and MTEL (now comatose), and the latter one, 9Mobile (former Etisalat). Ever since, the industry has never been the same as Globacom brought with it innovation, patriotism, and zeal yet to be matched by any other telecommunications company. It is on record Globacom revolutionised the telecoms industry in Nigeria and has succeeded in meeting the aspirations of the country.
As we mark the 65th birthday of one of Nigeria’s greatest business moguls, it is a remarkable and auspicious day to celebrate success, resilience, excellence, generosity, kindness, humility, optimism, patriotism, corporate social responsibility, and many more as typified by this thoroughbred Ijebu, his vicissitudes notwithstanding.
Mike Adenuga (Jr.) is a success story in every ramification. But then, how do we define or determine success? To paraphrase Bessie Stanley, ‘to achieve success is to live well, to gain the respect of those around us, to fill our niche and accomplish our task, to leave the world better than it was met, to look for the best in others and give them the best one could, for one’s life to be an inspiration to others, and for one’s memory to be a benediction’.
A resilient entrepreneur, his achievement in life has been based on damning the challenges of failure. No doubt, business has not been a bed of roses. Here was a man who despite the reverses he suffered with his ICL in the early days of the telecoms industry, later re-strategised and he is now a compelling player in the telecoms business not only in Nigeria, but in Africa.
According to Rick Pitino, ‘excellence is the unlimited ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer’, while Booker T. Washington, said that ‘excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way; Adenuga (Jr.) is a man of rare and consummate excellence. He does not belong to the wasted or wasting generation. Rather, he dazzles us with his virtues and outstanding qualities, and above all, his commitment to achieve the best for his race.
Talking about his generosity reminds this writer about the quotation from Albert Pike ‘what we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; and what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal’. Equally true is that ‘those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves’. These two statements exemplify the spirit of Adenuga (Jr.). He has done much for Nigeria and Africa. He has also brought fame, honour and prestige to the black race.
This writer as the Coordinator of the centuries’ old Annual Ojude Oba Festival of Ijebu Ode is in a position to state Mike Adenuga (Jr.) finds it easy to add values to his environment. The involvement of his company, Globacom in the last decade has changed the face, fortunes and relevance of the festival. The festival, through the instrumentality of Adenuga (Jr.) has become a global event playing host to millions of people annually including Presidents, Governors, National and State legislators, diplomats and foreign tourists. He is undoubtedly, the foremost benefactor of the Ijebu Ode Annual Ojude Oba Festival that unites all religions, and has become a reference point in religious tolerance and cultural renaissance.
A leader among men, he has always avoided putting himself above others. To some he is elusive or evasive, but those who know him attest to his uncommon humility and shyness. Humility, according to George Arliss ‘is the only true wisdom by which we prepare our minds for all the possible changes of life’. The transformation of Adenuga (Jr.) to one of the richest men of our time can surely not have been achieved without a good dose of humility.
It is no gainsaying ‘no pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit (Helen Keller)’. The achievements of Adenuga (Jr.) have been built on optimism- seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. His life is telling us that we can conquer our nightmares because of our dreams, and that there are possibilities in impossibilities. Indeed, it is possible to operate from a higher level of consciousness if and when we identify the opportunities in any good, bad and ugly environment. The dream in us will die if we are pessimistic.
A recipient of two national honours- Commander of the Order of Niger (CON), and the second highest national honour, the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON), in this generation, he is the greatest ambassador of Ijebuland in the socio-economic sphere and an indefatigable Pillar of sports and youth development in Nigeria. His Mike Adenuga Foundation is one of the best known social innovation organisations in the country bringing succour to many people and institutions.
On this 65th birthday of a quintessential and an amazing son of Nigeria, it is indeed, a unique opportunity to salute his selfless and unwavering commitment to humanity and astonishing accomplishments in life. It is hoped he would continue to usher in more grace to his glory as he continues to further manifest his destined greatness. I have no iota of doubt his mega vision, octopus mission and unassailable journey of purposive and selfless service to humanity would continue to magnify.
• Dr. (Chief) Yusuf, Baagbimo of Ijebu, lawyer, communication and management consultant, and former Ogun State Commissioner for Information and Culture wrote in from firstname.lastname@example.org.