Conflicts between billionaires frequently take center stage in the high-stakes world of African business.
While there is no physical warfare in these battles, they are conducted using legal techniques and strategic actions motivated by the desire of enormous money and unexplored potential.
HowNG delves into some Nigerian billionaire disputes that have caught the attention of the public.
1. Femi Otedola vs. Jimoh Ibrahim: The Battle for AP
A bitter corporate feud occurred in 2007 between Nigerian billionaires Femi Otedola and Jimoh Ibrahim over ownership of African Petroleum Plc (AP).
Otedola, then the chairman of AP, accused Ibrahim of abusing his position for personal gain. In reaction, Ibrahim claimed that Otedola was attempting to seize control of the company.
The heated dispute eventually reached Nigeria’s Supreme Court, where Otedola triumphed, securing his position as AP’s new chairman.
2. Otedola vs. Dangote: Texaco Nigeria Takeover Drama
Femi Otedola and Aliko Dangote’s conflict began in 2010 when Chevron declared its plan to divest Texaco Nigeria, which Otedola had been seeking.
MRS Holdings, Dangote’s cousin’s company, outbid Otedola. This sparked a rivalry in which Otedola invested $2 billion in areas that competed with Dangote’s.
There were accusations of share price manipulation and other conflicts as a result. Although the two finally reconciled, Otedola’s fortune suffered, knocking him off Forbes’ list of billionaires.
3. Dangote vs. Abdul Samad over Cement Pricing
Dangote Cement holds a commanding position in Nigeria’s cement sector, but BUA Cement’s rapid growth has sparked intense competition.
This has given rise to claims of price fixing and anti-competitive actions. Dangote Cement accused BUA Cement of price rigging in 2018, prompting the Nigerian Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (NCPC) to launch an investigation.
Dangote renewed his claims in 2020, and the NCPC issued a preliminary report against BUA Cement, pending a final judgement.
4. Dangote vs. BUA: The Okpeila Mining Site Clash
Dangote and BUA Cement were involved in a dispute over a mining site in Obu-Okpella, Edo State, during the cement industry competition.
After BUA claimed that a Federal High Court in Benin City had awarded them the right to peaceful ownership and operation of certain mining sites, with an injunction for Dangote Industries Limited and Dangote Cement Plc to refrain from interfering, the controversy erupted.
In response, Dangote Group aggressively refuted BUA’s allegation and asserted its legal ownership of the mining lease, noting that the case is still being litigated.
This duel of African billionaires emphasizes the severe competitiveness in Nigeria’s industrial sector as well as the complications of resource ownership.
5. Otedola vs. Elumelu: Clash Over Transcorp
Femi Otedola and Tony Elumelu recently had a well publicized feud. It all started when Otedola tried to buy a majority share in Transcorp Plc, a Nigerian conglomerate.
Elumelu, who was already the chairman, opposed Otedola’s proposal, resulting in a public quarrel. Otedola accused Elumelu of treason, while Elumelu said Otedola was attempting to buy Transcorp at a fire sale price.
Otedola eventually sold his stake to Elumelu, but not before launching explosive accusations against Elumelu in May 2023, accusing him of backstabbing and taking advantage of his previous financial difficulties.