Who does the cap fit? This must have been the question on the lips of many since international businessman and Agba Oye of Ibadan, Chief Harry Ayoade Akande died late last year. The late billionaire, until his death, was the holder of that ancient city’s highest honorary chieftaincy title. The age-long honorary traditional title comes with class, panache and social eminence. All the virtues Akande possessed while alive —he was wealthy, influential and highly connected. But since the ‘Agba Oye’ title became vacant with Akande’s demise, who wears the cap became a tough call for the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji due to scores of eminent Ibadan sons qualified to step into the title.
It was gathered that the contest was keen before the monarch and his team settled for another influential and wealthy son of Ibadan in person of Orikolade Adebayo Karim as the next receiver of the prestigious title. Sources told Spotlight that the billionaire oil mogul better known as Kola Karim seems to be one of the youngest of all who contested for the title. As Karim climbs the golden ladder with the Ibadan’s glamorous traditional title, it was also learnt that he was not selected to be conferred with the title of ‘Agba Oye’ by accident. The qualities that defined the title were inherent in him; bold and pragmatic in response to every challenge.
He was chosen based on his influence and connection that go beyond the shore of Africa as well as his silent contribution to the development of his country and native hometown. Karim might not be your regular face among the exclusive circle of Nigerian society establishment but he has a very rich social life. Despite his well-mannered British accent, Karim is also close to his Ibadan roots both in accent and lifestyle. There were very few of his kind when the genteel billionaire returned from England to his birthplace in 1996 to build on the family cocoa business. Between then and now, Karim, 51, has become one of Nigeria’s most successful businessmen.
He founded and controls Shoreline Group, a conglomerate with tentacles in oil exploration and production, power generation, construction, commodities trading, and telecommunications. His principal asset, Shoreline Natural Resources, is the third largest indigenous oil producer in Nigeria. Shoreline Natural Resources pumps 55,000 barrels of oil per day and holds an estimated one billion barrels in crude reserves. Karim is a genuine patriot who generously donates time and money to Nigerian causes. He was listed in the book ‘The Making And Makers of Nigeria At 60’ as one of the top 100 builders of Nigeria.
It’s just too difficult to begrudge this Polo-loving dashing man with vintage cars including a yellow Ferrari and vacation homes in Miami and Marbella, on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. He also owns several properties among those gleaming towers of Lagos Island, Ikoyi and Victoria Island. And for a great guy who holds an LLM in International Business Law, Ibadan traditional setting has caught a big fish!