On Sunday April 12, Nigerian billionaire tycoon, Tijanni Babatunde Folawiyo clocked age 60. For a man who has left his footprints on the sands of time, on that day, encomiums, eulogies and praises were literally showered on him, particularly, those who have encountered him in one way or the other. Ordinarily, series of lavish parties would have been thrown by Folawiyo himself or his legion of billionaire buddies and associates to celebrate the day, the present prevailing circumstances in the country literally robbed him of the opportunity. But to many of Tunde’s friends and associates, there’s every reason to celebrate him as he joins the diamond league. They have however deferred all the shindigs and soirees to when the situation returns to normal in the country.
There is no gainsaying that Tunde’s life has been a challenge to many others who were born with the proverbial silver spoon and have their paths already laced with roses because of their background but out of sheer indiscipline and lack of focus, allow the family fortune to decline after the demise of their patriarchs. Under the watch of Tunde, he has been redeploying the family wealth. That’s exceptional in the real sense because it’s rare, in this clime, to see a second generation lineage of family dynasty surviving not to talk of third generation. His grandfather is Pa Tijani Folawiyo, a local wealthy merchant during the British colonial era. Tunde’s own father, Chief Wahab Iyanda is also a well-known Nigerian businessman and Islamic leader, who returned from London after his study at the University of North London in the 1950s, where he read Management, specialising in ship brokerage to start his own business, Yinka Folawiyo & Sons, an import and export business. The charismatic business magnate grew the small commodities trading outfit into a conglomerate with interests in energy, agriculture, shipping, real estate and engineering. After his father’s demise in 2008, Tunde took over the reins of affair of the family business as leader of the third generation of the Folawiyo dynasty to take the group to a greater height. He has kept his father’s legacy afloat; and today, the Group is not only recognised at home but around the world. The company’s oil exploration firm, Yinka Folawiyo Petroleum, owns a 60 per cent interest in an oil block that contains the Aje offshore field. Aside family business, the billionaire mogul, on his own merits, has hands in many other pies including substantial stakes in Access Bank Plc and leading telecoms giant, MTN Nigeria.
The Lagos State-born oil mogul is that ubiquitous peg that fits into all holes. He has been listed by Forbes as one of the richest on the continent of Africa. The graduate of the London School of Economics also currently sits on the Boards of various educational institutions, providing a unique perspective towards improving the conditions for students both in Africa and other parts of the world, with his membership of the esteemed Global Advisory Board of the African Leadership Academy.
In 2001, he was appointed a member of the Governing Council of the Lagos State University by the Lagos State government. He has also demonstrated a passion for fostering the next generation of African leaders.
He is also a fellow of the Duke of Edinburgh’s World Fellowship, a global network of philanthropists dedicated to inspiring youth development. Folawiyo, the 2010 recipient of the African Leadership Award, continues to be recognized in various collegiate institutions.