It is a known fact that Nigeria’s billionaire mogul, Dr. Mike Adenuga is publicity shy. While some of his wealthy peers court publicity and embrace the fame game wholeheartedly, the Chairman of Globacom has gone to great length to avoid the media and public gaze. Adenuga, for some years now, has withdrawn from the world to live in his very own ultra-private bubble. However, the billionaire was recently drawn into a superfluous controversy that would have broken his forced silence when fellow billionaire and energy tycoon, Femi Otedola, attempted to drag him over his (Adenuga) pledge of N1 billion to the Private Sector Coalition Against COVID-19 (CACOVID) Relief Fund. Otedola was reported to have called out Adenuga and others to pay their pledges to the fund.
“Not yet redeemed! Let our word be our bond, and redeem pledges to the Coalition Against Covid-19. The Central Bank of Nigeria at the close of business on Friday, April 3, 2020, listed a few donors yet to redeem their pledges. I encourage them to fast-track this intervention to save lives during this pandemic. Every life counts!” Otedola had written on his social media pages. However, those in the know said Adenuga was the main target of Otedola’s social media post. But the telecom magnate, in his usual matured approach to any controversial issue, just ignored the tantrum and made the calling out fizzle like wasted air.
Spotlight gathered that there was indeed a mix up as Adenuga had earlier sent the bank draft of his N1 billion pledge directly to the Federal Government instead of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, where all the pledges from private and corporate donors are wired. Rather than employing same negative reaction to Otedola’s post, the wealthy businessman only reached out to the appropriate quarters to re-route the bank draft to the CBN COVID-19 Relief Fund Account, and then quenched every form of negative insinuations.
Meanwhile, those close to the unobtrusive billionaire said that there is no way Adenuga would have responded otherwise. As a matter of principle, he’s said to choose carefully his own circle of few friends and manages to keep a distance from many whose ideals do not tally with his. While several sources said Adenuga could easily pass as one of the most silent givers in Africa yet he hates any form of publicity announcing his philanthropy. This, it was learnt, riled some members of the upper class who sees him as arrogant. And every opportunity they have to drag him, including the recent COVID-19 donation issue, Adenuga always beat them to it as he ignores in his usual equanimity and refuses to be torn apart by the powerful guys leaning on the CBN gaffe. “If I have worked so hard to put the money together, I will not allow anybody to rubbish it,” Adenuga was once quoted. And he also doesn’t suffer fools gladly. “Being a good boy doesn’t get the job done. The day everybody likes me and call me a good man, this business is finished.” Based on these beliefs, the source told Spotlight that Adenuga always keeps his lips firmly shut and avoids any issue that will expose him to klieg light.
As a man of few words, he always prefers to let his silent action speaks for itself. Adenuga, who will be 67 on April 29, made huge fortune in the 1990s through oil exploration and importation. The man fondly called ‘The Bull’ is a self-made billionaire who has built wealth through hard work, great investments and strategic positioning. He has since grown phenomenally with interests in banking, energy, telecommunication, oil exploration, aviation, construction and real estate. Forbes, in its latest release of the 2020 global list of billionaires, the respected American business journal pegged Adenuga’s net worth at $5.6 billion. However, he lost $3.5 billion from his 2019 fortune of $9.1 billion but still occupies the 286th position on the global list and the third richest African in 2020.