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Top 10 Most Influential Business People in Nigeria

Who are the top most influential business people in Nigeria? Well you are going to find out in this article. Nigeria is a country endowed with human, mineral and natural resources; and among these human resources, we have individuals who have carved a niche for themselves in the business world.

They are huge employers of labor, providing meaningful jobs to several thousands of Nigerians. They have ideas that could spin tons of cash out of any business venture. And their influence is not felt only within Nigeria; they are known all over the world as successful and influential people.

This article is not focused on their wealth; but on the amount of influence they weld among the elites and masses of the society. Without wasting your time, below are the top 10 most influential business people in Nigeria.

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Top 10 Most Influential Business People in Nigeria

  1. Aliko Dangote

Born in 1957 in Kano state of Nigeria, Aliko Dangote showed keen interest in business right from his childhood years. He attended the popular Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, where he studied business. He started his own business, The Dangote group in 1977, with a N500,000 loan from his grandfather, Alhaji Sanusi Dantata.

The business, which started as a small trading firm, is now a multi-billion dollar investment, with its tentacles spreading into countries like Togo, Ghana, and Benin republic. The Dangote Group is the largest industrial group in West Africa, with over 11,000 employees. As of 2013, Aliko Dangote is ranked by Forbes as the richest man in Africa and the richest black man in the world.

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2. Mike Adenuga

Mike Adenuga, made his first fortune at the age of 26 from distributing textile materials such as lace. But presently he has built a large pool of wealth by investing in many lucrative sectors including banking, telecommunications, oil, among others. Adenuga founded Nigeria’s second largest telecommunication network, Globacom, in 2006.

It now has over 24 million subscribers in Nigeria alone and will soon start operations in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire. Adenuga also owns Conoil Producing, one of the largest oil exploration companies in Nigeria – with a production capacity of 100,000 barrels per day. Mike Adenuga is presently Nigeria’s second richest man, the 5th richest in Africa.

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3. Femi Otedola

Presently the third richest man in Nigeria, 42-year old Femi Otedola is another self-made multibillionaire who rakes in a large part of his wealth from the energy sector. Married with four children, Otedola merged his private firm, Zenon oil with a majority stake he acquired in African Petroleum to create what to become the largest petroleum company in Africa.

4. Orji Uzor Kalu

Born on April 21, 1960, Dr Orji Uzor Kalu is the Chairman of SLOK Holding and the Daily Sun Newspaper. An international entrepreneur, he served as the governor of Abia state in Nigeria from 1999 to 2007.

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Kalu started business with a meager $35, which he borrowed from his mother. He started his entrepreneurial life by trading in palm oil. He would buy the commodity from Nigeria’s eastern regions and sell it in the North. After some time, he switched over from palm oil selling to buying and reselling furniture on a large scale.

His business grew rapidly until he eventually established SLOK Holding, a business conglomerate that comprises many successful companies in Nigeria, Benin republic, Ghana, Togo, Guinea, south africa, Liberia, Botswana, and Korea.

In one of his most popular quotes, Dr Orji Kalu said, “A good businessman must have a nose for business in the same way that a journalist has a nose for news. Once your eyes, ears, nose, heart and brain are trained for business, you sniff business opportunities everywhere.

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In places where people see many obstacles, I see many opportunities. At times, there is something instinctive in me that tells me that a business opportunity exists where others see nothing at all. That is what makes me different, maybe unique.”

He studied political science at the University of Maiduguri. He also holds degrees from Abia State University and Harvard Univeristy.

5. Jim Ovia

In 1990, Jim Ovia founded what is now the second largest financial services provider in West Africa, Zenith Bank Group. Even though he stepped down as the bank’s chief executive in 2009, he remains the largest shareholder, with his stake adding up to about $300 million. Aside the banking sector, Jim Ovia also rakes a large chunk of his wealth from real estate. He owns the telecom outfit, Visafone and Quantum, a private equity fund.

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6. Jimoh Ibrahim

Born on February 24, 1967, Jimoh Ibrahim is a lawyer, businessman, politician, industrialist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. Presently, he is the Group Chairman and Group CEO of Global Fleet Group, a large business conglomerate in Nigeria with tentacles reaching neighboring West African countries. Jimoh Ibrahim is a multiple investor, with significant inputs in number of sectors including aviation, insurance, oil and gas, energy, banking, and media, among others.

7. Oba Otudeko

Founder of the business conglomerate known as Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko is a former banker. His conglomerate has interests in sectors such as flour milling, real estate, marine transport, and oil and gas. The 69-year old is worth about $2.5 billion as of present and he owns a 14% stake in Nigerian telecommunications company, Airtel.

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8. Sayyu Dantata

Sayyu Dantata is the largest individual shareholder in MRS oil, a leading oil marketing company in Nigeria with tentacles reaching many neighboring West African countries including Togo, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin Republic. Dantata is a cousin of Nigeria and Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote.

9. Raymond Dokpesi

Regarded as the “media guru of Nigeria”, 62-year old Raymond Anthony Aleogho Dokpesi attended the Loyola College in Ibadan. From there, he proceeded to the University of Benin for his undergraduate studies and later to the University of Gdansk in Poland for his doctorate degree.

In the 1980s, Dokpesi founded the first indigenous shipping line in Africa, Ocean Lines, which stopped operations less than ten years later. Dokpesi owns Daar communications, owners of RayPower FM and Africa Independent Television (AIT), the first privately owned television station in Nigeria.

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10. Mrs Folorunsho Alakija

Starting her career in the mid 1970s as a secretary at the now defunct International Merchant Bank of Nigeria, 62-year old Folorunsho Alakija now makes the bulk of her fortune from oil. She studied fashion design in England in the 1980s and founded Supreme Stitches, a Nigerian fashion label that catered to upper class clientele.

However, Alakija struck gold in the oil industry. In 1993, Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida awarded her company, Famfa Oil, the license to prospect for oil. This license later became the OML 127, one of the most prolific oil blocks in Nigeria. Alakija donates to widows through her Rose of Sharon Foundation. She is presently the richest black woman in the world, overtaking Oprah Winfrey in December 2012.