Nigeria, the 14th largest oil producing country in the world with 2.4 million barrels a day, has taken steps to open up its oil industry to locals, a policy known as “indigenisation”. Findings reveal that the oil and gas industry has largely been dominated by male entrepreneurs. But that trend seems to be changing fast, as the number of women who have become powerful stakeholders by virtue of their investment in the sector appears to be on the increase. The oil business in Nigeria today can no longer be said to be an all-male affair. LEADERSHIP Friday throws the spotlight on leading female entrepreneurs who have risen to prominence, courtesy of their investments in the oil sector.
Folurunsho Alakija (CEO, Famfa Oil)
Born in 1951to the family of Chief I. A Ogbara, Alakija is a Nigerian businesswoman, reputed to be the second richest woman in Africa after Mrs Dos Santos of Angola, with an estimated net worth of $2.5billion. The business tycoon is involved in the fashion, oil and printing industries.
Alakija began her career in the banking sector by serving as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises back in 1974, before moving on to the First National Bank of Chicago, now FinBank. After working there for some years, she established a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches, which rose to prominence and fame and became a household name within few years as Rose of Sharon House of Fashion. As national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), she left an indelible mark, promoting Nigerian culture through fashion and style.
In May 1993, Alakija applied for the allocation of an oil-prospecting license (OPL). The license, to explore for oil on a 617, 000-acre block now referred to as OPL 216, was granted to Alakija’s company, Famfa Limited.
She is the group-managing director of The Rose of Sharon Group, which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints and Promotions Limited and Digital Reality Prints Limited. She is also the executive vice-chairman of FAMFA Oil.
Hajiya Bola Shagaya (CEO, Bolmus Group)
Bola Shagaya is one of the richest women in Nigeria who has a stake in the oil sector. She is a businesswoman and the founder and CEO of Bolmus Group International, a diversified Nigerian conglomerate company with interests in oil, real estate and banking. (She is a board member of Unity Bank PLC).
She is also into communications and photography and is on the board of the National Economic Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD).
Uju Ifejika (CEO, Britannia-U Group)
Catherine Uju Ifejika is a Nigerian woman of substance whose wealth is traceable to earnings from oil-related businesses. She is the chairman and chief executive of the Britannia-U Group, a group of oil and gas companies. The company is indigenous and an integrated oil and gas company, incorporated on December 4 1995 under the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The company has upstream (exploration and production), downstream, (supply and trading), shipping and sub-surface engineering affiliate companies. Recently, her business bought a stake in a major oil and gas field, Ajapa. The reserves, according to Britannia, are worth $4.3billion
A lawyer by profession, Mrs Ifejika previously worked in the oil and gas industry for 20 years with Texaco, which later merged with Chevron, rising from junior counsel to regional company secretary before retiring early to focus on building an enterprise for herself. She is a graduate of Queen’s College Enugu and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.
Mrs Nkechi Obi (Executive Vice Chairman, Techno Oil Limited)
Mrs Nkechi Obi, MON (Member of the Order of the Niger), is the executive vice chairman of Techno Oil Ltd, Nigeria’s foremost oil and gas company. Mrs Obi is a visionary and astute businesswoman, who presides over the Techno Oil Group, a diversified conglomerate with subsidiaries and interests spanning oil and gas, aviation, power, real estate and banking.
The business activities of the company involve manufacturing, storing and marketing of refined petroleum products and providing high quality value-adding services to the retail, commercial and industrial sectors of the Nigerian economy, such as marine, construction, aviation, automotive, energy and other highly specialised sectors.
Techno Oil was founded more than a decade ago with a humble beginning, but now has annual revenue in excess of $250million.
Princess Stella Oduah (CEO, Sea Petroleum)
Princess Stella Adaeze Oduah, former minister of aviation, is one of those topping the list of Nigerian female oil merchants.
Born in Akili-Ozizor Ogbaru local government area of Anambra State on January 5 1962, Stella’s career in the oil sector officially began when she joined the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) upon her return to Nigeria from the United States, where she obtained Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Accounting and Business Administration respectively. She distinguished herself while at the NNPC before leaving to set up Sea Petroleum and Gas (SPG), an independent marketer of petroleum products in Nigeria. The company rose from its humble beginnings to become a leading company in the competitive oil industry.
Her foray into politics saw her play a leading role in President Jonathan’s 2011 campaign.
Amy Jadesimi (MD, LADOL)
The roll call of great women in Nigeria would not be complete without her. Dr Amy Jadesimi is the managing director of Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) base. She is another force to be reckoned with in the Nigerian oil sector by virtue of her position at LADOL, which has become one of the giant service providers in the upstream sector.
Responding to the reality of men dominating the economy, especially the oil sector in an interview she once granted, Dr Jadesimi, a former Goldman analyst, medical doctor and MBA holder said, “Women are taken for granted… of course a woman can reach the highest levels of society.”
LADOL, which plans to invest up to $1billion developing port facilities in Lagos, has turned a site reclaimed from a swamp and an industrial wasteland into a $500million port facility to support offshore drilling operations, including ship repair, maintenance, engineering and construction. It is the only deep offshore oil and gas logistics base in Lagos and the largest privately financed logistics base in Nigeria.