Many of them are names you’ve probably never heard. In the coming days, this author will list at random, ten relatively unknown high net-worth individuals from various African countries, pulled from our extensive wealth database. This is the first part in the series. Here are ten low-key, ultra-wealthy Nigerian tycoons, entrepreneurs and business leaders. Each of them is worth at least $50 million. There are no politicians or criminals here — just good, successful businessmen.
Kola Aluko, a Nigerian energy and aviation tycoon, founded oil trading firm Fossil Resources in 2001, then went on to become CEO of Exoro Energy- an indigenous oil exploration and production firm. In 2007, the company merged with Seven Energy, a leading independent oil exploration company. Aluko is now Deputy CEO and a leading shareholder of Seven Energy, which has operations and key interests in four onshore fields in the Niger Delta. Aluko is also a member of the advisory board of Vista Jet, a Swiss-based private jet charter company founded by Thomas Flohr. A passionate car racing enthusiast, Aluko has competed in major European races with the Swiss team Kessel racing. In June 2012, Kola Aluko was reported to have purchased two luxury ultra-modern estates in Beverly Hills for $40 million. EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier reference to alleged business ties between Kola Aluko and Nigeria’s Minister of Petroleum Resources have been deleted after both parties denied having any business ties with one another.
Eddy Martins Egwuenu
A former bank chief, Egwuenu is the second largest individual shareholder of the Zenith Bank Group. His 1.5% stake in Zenith Bank alone is worth about $60 million.
Omokore is the chairman and founder of Energy Resources Group, one of Nigeria’s largest privately-held conglomerates. ERG has interests in oil trading and exploration, haulage services, steel, dredging engineering and property development. The group’s annual revenue exceeds $400 million.
The trained orthopedic and trauma surgeon might have thrived due to his formidable connections with Nigerian military bigwigs such as former President Ibrahim Babangida, but ABC Orjiakor is a successful businessman on all parameters. One of Nigeria’s wealthiest men, Orjiakor is the Chairman and CEO of Shebah E&P Company Limited, an oil exploration firm which has a 40% stake in the offshore block OML 108 which produces over 8,000 barrels per day. Orjiakor is also chairman of Zebbra Energy Limited which owns the deepwater concession OPL 248 offshore Nigeria.
The Nigerian oilman sits atop Atlas Oranto Petroleum, a West African exploration company which owns several producing and non-producing oil and gas assets across Nigeria, Liberia, Equatorial Guinea and the Gambia. In 2010, Oranto Atlas sold off a set of oil blocks in Liberia for $250 million. Eze pocketed $200 million from the sale.
Iwuajoku made his fortune importing rice and steel rods, while leveraging his extensive political connections to obtain a series of generous import duty waivers from the Nigerian government. Among other ventures, he reinvested in private aviation services. His company, Quits Aviation services is one of the few fixed-base operators in the country. Quits Aviation Services owns a large maintenance hangar at the Murtala Muhammed International airport in Lagos and a jet charter service.
One of Nigeria’s most renowned commercial lawyers, Gbenga Oyebode is a founder and Managing Partner of Aluko & Oyebode- a successful corporate and commercial law firm in Nigeria. He owns a minority shareholding in MTN Nigeria, and sits on the company’s board. Oyebode also serves as chairman of Access Bank PLC, Okomu Oil and Crusade Insurance. The value of his shareholdings in these companies is worth tens of millions of dollars.
The reclusive tycoon is the founder and Executive chairman of the Caverton Offshore Support Group, Africa’s first integrated offshore support service provider. The company provides marine, aviation and logistics support services to oil exploration and production firms based in West Africa. Some of its clients include Cameroon Oil Transportation Company (COTCO) and Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC). Caverton Helicopters- a subsidiary of the group owns a 10,000 square meter flight facility at the Murtala Muhammad International airport in Lagos, a 9,000 square-meter facility in Port Harcourt and a heliport in the elitist Victoria Island in Lagos.
Michael Ade-Ojo is the biggest seller of Toyota vehicles in West Africa. His Elizade Group accounts for over 10% of all Toyota sales in Nigeria. He is also chairman of Toyota Nigeria and is a key shareholder of RT Briscoe PLC, an NSE-listed distributor of Toyota cars in Nigeria.
His father, Henry Fajemirokun, was a renowned shipping magnate and one of Africa’s most successful businessmen after Nigeria’s independence. Nigerian Maritime Services Limited, the shipping company he founded in 1962, is still one of the largest shipping companies in Nigeria today. Dele Fajemirokun, his 62 year-old son is now in charge. A prominent boardroom guru, Fajemirokun also owns key stakes and sits on the board of several Nigerian blue-chips including American International Insurance company and oil explorer First Hydrocarbon Nigeria Limited.