As you already know, a lot can happen in one year. For Nigeria’s wealthiest individuals, the twelve months of 2019 have been quite eventful. Some of these billionaires certainly made more money this year, even as a few of them divested some parts (if not all) of their business empires. Others started new businesses, travelled the world, and enjoyed their wealth.
As 2019 gradually comes to an end, Nairametrics has decided to look back at some of the major events that happened in the lives of these billionaires. What have they been up to and what are their plans for 2020? Now, let’s start with the major ones.
Femi Otedola charmed 2019
Talks about Femi Otedola’s proposed divestment from Forte Oil Plc became public knowledge in as early as December 2018. However, the deal did not get finalised until around June 2019. This was three months after the Q1 deadline that was initially planned. It was one of the biggest deals in corporate Nigeria this year, and it saw the billionaire and former Chairman of the downstream oil and gas company selling his entire majority shareholding to Prudent Energy Limited.
Walking away with his billions, Femi Otedola later announced via Instagram that he was shifting focus to his power generation company, Geregu Power Plc. He currently serves as the company’s Chairman of Board.
Besides his business moves, Otedola was also very active on the social scene. Now mind you, we are not just talking about him attending high-class events with his classy wife or even being invited to Buckingham Palace a number of times this year; no. We are talking about him being very active on social media. That’s right, we might as well call him the Instagram Billionaire of 2019! Indeed, the man lived life in 2019. And what else can we say if not that he deserved every bit of it.
But then again, Femi Otedola did more than just wear designer clothes and flaunt his wealth on social media. On many occasions, he demonstrated his altruism by offering scholarships and taking care of the medical bills of two Nigerian famous actors. He even gave out $25,000 to the Super Eagles of Nigeria as part of a promise he made to encourage them to perform at the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
Femi Otedola certainly did have very defined moments in 2019. It is expected that 2020 will be as interesting. Hopefully, his book, which he hinted was in the works, will finally be ready next year.
Pascal Dozie retired
There are some billionaires that all we ever hear about them doing is working and making money. Pascal Dozie is one of such billionaires. The man did everything from starting and building Diamond Bank Plc to serving as MTN Nigeria’s Chairman for nearly two decades. So, when it was announced in July this year that he was retiring, everyone knew that he deserved the rest.
The 80-year old is probably the most prominent business executive that retired in 2019. However, despite his retirement, we bet his money is still streaming in, thanks to his billions and many investments, including shareholdings in MTN Nigeria.
Allen Onyema’s rise and fall?
Earlier in September when the CEO of Nigeria’s Air Peace, Allen Onyema, volunteered to bear the cost of repatriating hundreds of Nigerians who were stranded in South Africa following a wave of xenophobic attacks, millions of Nigerians were really impressed. They even declared him as a national hero, which in fact he was. The altruistic move even turned out to be very beneficial to the airline in terms of publicity, thereby positioning the company for even greater exploits in the Nigerian aviation sector.
Fast-forward to November, the story changed for the billionaire when the US Government surprisingly accused him of fraud. Many Nigerians were just as shocked to hear the news as they were surprised by his generosity earlier in September. He has since maintained his innocence, despite the allegations. And as it seems, a lot of the Nigerian public is in support of him.
In the meantime, it is unclear whether the accusations against him hold any merit. The case is still pending and until there is a definitive court ruling, we really cannot be vocal with our commentary. One thing that is however clear is that the indictment was a major blow to Mr Allen’s almost perfect businessman’s image. Hopefully, he will be able to clear his name soon.
Austin Avuru prepares for departure
The Co-founder and CEO of Seplat Petroleum Development Company Plc, Austin Avuru, oversaw the completion of one of the biggest corporate deals in Nigeria this year. We are talking about Seplat’s acquisition of Eland Oil and Gas. The deal, which was valued at $484 million, will probably be the last deal the billionaire will broker for the indigenous oil major. This is because it was announced earlier this year that he will be retiring from the company by mid-2020.
Recall that in December 2018, the billionaire disclosed that he would be retiring from the company after his 62nd birthday. He is currently 61 years old and will be 62 sometime next year. By the time he steps down in July next year, he would have served as the company’s CEO for ten years.
Luckily for him, he is certainly going to have an amazing retirement. This is because first of all, he is a billionaire. Moreover, he has enough investments to last a lifetime.
Tony Elumelu got decorated by a VC
As one of Nigeria’s most prominent billionaire businessmen, it is not surprising that Tony Elumelu dominated the business narrative throughout much of 2019. However, the most memorable moment happened in June this year when he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree by the Bayero University, Kano.
As Nairametrics reported, the well-deserved honour was in recognition of the billionaire’s many contributions to the country’s economy, as well as his many philanthropic gestures which are all aimed at eradicating poverty in Nigeria and beyond. Recall that earlier in the year, the billionaire organised the annual Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme which saw hundreds of entrepreneurs receive seed funding for their businesses.
Much like Femi Otedola, Tony Elumelu was equally very active on social media. As a matter of fact, he is also a good contender for the Instagram Billionaire title. His corporate fashion sense was top-notch throughout the year. We bet he inspired a whole lot of young men (and women) to become just like him when they grow up.
Folorunsho Alakija maintained her money
The 68-year old Nigerian businesswoman retained her position as one of the only three black female billionaires in the whole world. According to Forbes Magazine, Alakija’s net worth as at January 2019 is $1.1 billion. Chances are that this net worth increased in the course of the year due to her many business ventures, including a majority stake in Fanfa Oil Ltd and DaySpring Property Development Company.
Mike Adenuga remained wealthy and private
The prominent businessman, who founded Globacom and currently sits on the board of ConOil Plc as Chairman, was ranked the second richest person in Africa by Forbes. According to the ranking, the billionaire’s net worth stood at $9.2 billion as at January this year, after jumping by nearly $4 billion up from $5.3 billion in the course of 2018. However, nothing much was heard about Mr Adenuga’s private life, no thanks to his extremely reclusive nature.
Jim Ovia was also mostly private until September…
The Chairman of Zenith Bank Plc was quietly making his money throughout much of 2019. And then in September 2019, he was almost immersed in controversy when he briefly attended the World Economic Forum Africa 2019 in Cape Town. His brief appearance was met with criticisms by Nigerians, many of whom were still enraged over the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals by South African.
Meanwhile, upon realising the sensitive nature of the matter, the billionaire quickly withdrew from the event and returned to Lagos. He also issued a statement explaining his reason for withdrawal, whilst expressing support to those who were affected by the attacks.
Aliko Dangote dominated the year
It would be impossible to conclude this article without mentioning Africa’s richest man and what happened to him during the course of the year. As expected, a lot was reported of him, most of which had to do with money moves. For one, he continued with the construction of Dangote Refinery, importing and installing some of the biggest refinery equipment in the world, including the largest single crude distillation column which was installed earlier this December. The refinery project has gulped a lot of billions and is expected to be ready soon.
In the meantime, Aliko Dangote equally sold off a major part of the Dangote Group – Dangote Flour Mills Plc. As Nairametrics reported, Dangote Flour was sold to Olam in a deal valued at billions of naira.
But beyond his business moves, Dangote was very active on the Nigerian social scene. Along with his friend Femi Otedola, Dangote ensured to have fun and not take everything seriously. Whether he was dancing Teni’s mega-hit song “Case” or he was enjoying some gelato with a group of friends, he did ensure to enjoy 2019.