Among the jet-setting group of the world’s top-flight business moguls, Nigeria does have its share of nationals who have spread the tentacles of their business acumen to ensure that their names will go down as CEOs of international companies and business concerns.
LEADERSHIP Friday brings you a list of a few of them.
What better way to start this list than with Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the quintessential businessman who has seen it all in the world of business. The Kano-born businessman is sparing nothing to expand his empire, going by how he continues to venture into new areas of business. Over the years, Dangote has become a force to be reckoned with in the industrial, manufacturing and production sectors. Name any sector of business, Alhaji Aliko Dangote is there, swimming with the big fish in the waters of commerce.
His success is not limited to his business concerns in Nigeria alone, but extends far and wide to other African and to European countries. Expectedly, the success of Dangote’s companies has translated to great wealth for the unassuming business mogul, as it is on record that he is the first Nigerian to make it on to the Forbes list of billionaires and to also be adjudged the richest man in Africa long before any business magnate in Nigeria ever dreamt of making the list.
Jelani Aliyu is from Sokoto State and is General Motors lead exterior designer and the designer of the Chevy Volt. General Motors is the world’s largest automobile maker. The car has been described as an American Revolution and one of the hottest concepts in the design line.
Aliyu was born in 1966 in Kaduna, the fifth of seven children. He had tremendous encouragement and mentoring from his family and friends and his creative art developed. He drew a lot, designed his own cars and even built scale models of them, complete with exteriors and interiors. He got admission into the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria to study Architecture, but soon discovered the curriculum did not support his future vision and plans. He wanted an institution that would give him the best foundation required to study Automobile Design abroad, so he went to Birnin Kebbi Polytechnic. He was there from 1986 to 1988 and earned an associate degree in Architecture, with an award as Best All-round Student. In 1990, Aliyu moved to Detroit, Michigan to enrol at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit on a Sokoto Scholarship Board sponsorship.
With his brilliant work on the design of the Chevrolet Volt, which was unveiled in 2007, Jelani Aliyu is considered by many to be the superstar of the General Motors renaissance.
Kase Lukman Lawal
Born June 30 1954, Kase Lukman Lawal is a Nigerian-born businessman who lives and works in the United States. Lawal was born in Ibadan. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from Texas Southern University in 1976 and an MBA from Prairie View A&M University, Texas in 1978. He is the chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of CAMAC International Corporation, chairman and CEO of CAMAC Energy Inc and chairman of Allied Energy Corporation in Houston, Texas. He is also the chairman/CEO, CAMAC Holdings and vice chairman, Port of Houston Authority Commission. He serves as a member of the board of directors and is a significant shareholder in Unity National Bank, the only federally insured and licensed African-American-owned bank in Texas. Lawal was a member of the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Business Advisory Council and in 1994, he was a finalist for the United States Business Entrepreneur of the Year award. Lawal is a member of Phi Beta Sigma fraternity.
When Forbes published a list of 10 young African millionaires to watch, Nigeria’s very own Jason Njoku of Iroko TV made the cut. According to Forbes, there’s no money like young money.
There are a handful of young Africans in their 20s and 30s who have built businesses and amassed enviable million-dollar fortunes. Call them million-dollar babies if you like. While some are corporate animals, others are empire builders, like maverick Nigerian Internet entrepreneur Jason Njoku, the 33-year-old founder and CEO of Iroko TV, the world’s largest digital distributor of African movies.
Ladi Delano, aged 32, is the founder and CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa. The jet-setting Nigerian serial entrepreneur made his first millions as a liquor entrepreneur while living in China. He also made Forbes list of 10 African young millionaires to look out for. In 2004, at age 22, he founded Solidarnosc Asia, a Chinese alcoholic beverage company that made Solid XS, a premium brand of vodka. Solid XS went on to achieve over 50% market share in China and was distributed across over 30 cities in China and pulled in $20million in annual revenue. Delano subsequently sold the company to a rival liquor company for over $15million and ploughed his funds into his next venture – the Delano Reid Group, a real estate investment holding company focused on mainland China.
Today, Delano is the co-founder and CEO of Bakrie Delano Africa (BDA), a $1billion joint venture with the $15billion (market cap) Bakrie Group of Indonesia.
Antonio Oladeinde Fernandez
When it comes to impressive and exuberant displays of the splendour of wealth, Fernandez dusts them all by miles. The name ‘Fernandez’ is Portuguese in origin and shows that he is of the popular Fernandez family of Lagos. Historical accounts show that the Fernandez family were originally descendants of freed slaves from Brazil, where Portuguese is the official language. Some of the first modern-styled buildings in Lagos were built by the family and these buildings are known for their spectacular Brazilian architecture.
Antonio Oladeinde Fernandez is the perfect combination of a diplomat and a businessman. Even though he is Nigerian, he was appointed the permanent representative of Central African Republic (CAR) at the United Nations in 1997. Fernandez is said to have interests in CAR’s oil industry. At a time, he was the deputy minister of foreign affairs of the Central African Republic.
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