Dr. Mike Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga, GCON, is celebrating his 70th birthday, and tributes are pouring in to honor him. While many of these tributes highlight his significant impact on Nigeria’s corporate world, this tribute aims to shed light on lesser-known aspects of this remarkable individual.
Dr. Mike Adenuga has left an indelible mark on Nigeria’s corporate landscape, garnering admiration from millions around the world. Often referred to as the “Spirit of Africa,” he is a global icon respected and celebrated by industry leaders, kings, and presidents.
Before working for him in February 2022, I, like many Nigerians, knew of Mike Adenuga as a billionaire, serial entrepreneur, philanthropist, industry captain, and one of the world’s wealthiest individuals, surpassing even the Forbes Africa rich list.
However, it was only when I started working for him that I truly got to know Mike Adenuga. At the beginning of that year, everything seemed to be going well for me—I had just turned 50, bought a car I had dreamed of since childhood, and moved into a beautiful house on Victoria Island. I felt I had achieved success. Little did I know that things were about to get even better.
Mike Adenuga offered me a job, and suddenly I found myself truly experiencing what it means for Adenuga to be “my guy.” It is an exhilarating and almost intoxicating feeling. Being in his presence is like being in the company of a highly intelligent, generous, and humorous raconteur. It also comes with the perks of being well compensated, enjoying fine dining, indulging in choice liquor, and receiving lavish gifts in various forms.
Mike Adenuga is widely recognized as one of the most generous individuals in Nigeria. He possesses a great sense of humor and delights in sharing stories and engaging in banter. He can effortlessly tease and mock others, including himself.
If you sit down with Mike Adenuga for an intimate dinner, you will be entertained with tales of amusing adventures that start in Ibadan, extend to Lagos, take you to New Orleans and smoky bars in New York, continue in Owerri, and unfold in other exciting and exotic locations worldwide.
As people read this tribute and the many others written by those who have been touched by Adenuga’s magic, some may dismiss them as excessive praise or accuse us of being flatterers or hired writers.
However, even the skeptics would agree that Mike Adenuga is one of the most generous wealthy individuals in the world. You can trust me on this because I have worked with many affluent men and women. The skeptics may also note that he is a demanding boss who expects a lot from his staff.
Those who describe Mike Adenuga as a taskmaster, particularly those who have worked closely with him, are not entirely wrong. However, they only tell half the story. It is true that working with Adenuga requires giving your all and sometimes even working an extra hour each day. It’s not a 24/7 job—it’s a 25/7 commitment.
This would be challenging if you were working for someone who spent their time partying and traveling the world. However, Mike Adenuga works as hard as his staff, dedicating himself fully to the job. He is not a member of the “do as I say” gang; instead, he exemplifies the “do as I do” philosophy. He leads by example, actively involved, with his sleeves rolled up and a keen eye on the ball.
The Igbo people have a saying that a disease that gives you a warning will not kill you. When working with Mike Adenuga, three things become evident from the moment you meet him: he expects loyalty, he values hard work, and he offers better compensation than his competitors. So, if you are aware of the terms of engagement, why would you then label him as a demanding taskmaster?
Mike Adenuga is a dedicated workaholic involved in various industries, ranging from banking to hospitality, telecoms to aviation, and oil and gas. Collaborating with him allows one to witness his remarkable ability to recall information and be captivated by his profound knowledge of current trends. He is well-versed in popular songs, blockbuster movies, trending celebrities, geopolitics, youth culture, financial markets, advancements in technology, and the latest developments in the oil and gas sector.
Despite being 70 years old, he impressively remembers the names, positions, and backgrounds of the top management staff in his companies without hesitation. Before meetings, he takes the time to greet everyone in their respective native languages, from Igbo to Hausa, Yoruba to Edo, Swahili to Xhosa, and Urdu to Arabic.
As he celebrates his 70th birthday, those who know him well do not expect him to slow down. Mike Adenuga is unfamiliar with the concept of slowing down; he resembles a Formula One driver, known for his speed, precision, and relentless pursuit of success.
Having worked with him and experienced his kindness and generosity, I raise a toast to this exceptional business maverick and corporate genius. “Baba, as you turn 70, here’s to the memories we’ve shared and the challenges we’ve overcome. May God bless you with many more years.” Signed – Bad Boy Toni!
(Kan, a former Head of PR and Communications at Globacom, provided this information.)