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WHAT SHALL WE SAY ABOUT MIKE ADENUGA AT 71?, BY TONI KAN

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Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr GCON.





70 years from now when the history of Nigerian enterprise is written, one name will tower, head and shoulders above many – Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr GCON.

Mike Adenuga as he is popularly known will turn 71 on April 29 and as has become the norm, the air waves, newspapers and blogosphere would be redolent with congratulatory messages and tributes like this one you are about to read.

But this year, the drum beats of celebration began to reverberate early. In the second week of March, a clear one month before his birthday, the universe conspired to give the man affectionately referred to as The Bull an early birthday present.

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On Monday March 14th 2024, telecom subscribers across many countries in Africa – South Africa, Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Ivory Coast – woke up unable to connect to their networks. It would later emerge that damage to undersea cables had caused the outage. Affected cables included – the West Africa Cable System (WACS), the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE), MainOne, and SAT3.

The damage to these cables led to a connectivity black out, akin to what happens when the national grid goes on a snooze fest.

But what became immediately obvious was that only the Globacom owned Glo 1 submarine cable was unaffected which meant that only Glo subscribers continued to Glo while others wallowed in the outage.

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A story in TheCable which ran under the caption: “Main One, WACs down as Glo 1 comes to rescue of internet users” captured the unfolding scenario.

Continuing, the online publication informed its readers that “However, Glo 1, owned by Nigeria’s leading digital services company, Globacom, was not affected by the damage and has continued to operate normally.Industry analysts believe the sturdy nature and resilience of Glo 1 International Submarine Cable is the reason why the damage did not affect the cable.”

Mike Adenuga aka The Bull aka The Spirit of Africa aka The Great Guru has not just built a proudly Nigerian network; he has built one that has all the unique attributes of the bull – strong, sturdy, resilient!

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The story of the man from Ijebu Ode in Ogun state seems to have been fashioned out of a fairy tale defined by tenacity, resilience, persistence and consistency.

Starting out in business as a trader who became a millionaire at age 26 from selling lace materials and soft drinks, he had segued into oil and gas where his Consolidated Oil (now Conoil) became the first among 11 to strike first oil.
As time went on, he would spread his tentacles into banking and finance, real estate and construction, but it was his venture into the telecommunication space that made him a household name.

Globacom, the company he founded in 2003 changed the telecoms landscape and gave Nigerians a new lease of life with the innovative introduction of per-second-billing which other operators had said was impossible.

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Mike Adenuga has evinced in every iteration of his business journey the traits already mentioned – tenacity, resilience, persistence and consistency while showing clearly that he is blessed with the Midas touch.

In 70 years’ time when that chronicle of 20th and 21st century Nigerian enterprise is written, many would read about Adenuga and his business acumen and accolades at home and abroad but what they will get would be mostly broad strokes because while Mike Adenuga looms large across Nigeria’s business landscape and is the subject, always, of fevered speculations in the press and elsewhere, he remains a remarkable enigma.

So much ink has been spilled and newspaper acreage covered by writers trying to unmask the big masquerade that is Mike Adenuga and for his 71st birthday, this writer will provide two inalienable morsels that will provide a point of departure for those who continue to seek to decode him.
One is professional and the other is personal.

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The Bull is a workaholic; long meetings; a fixation on detail and insistence on excellence. He is that boss who will rage one minute like thunder because your work is slacking then leave you in stitches the next as he regales you with rib cracking reminiscences.

Mike Adenuga is a man incapable of holding a grudge or making a fist because his hand is always open, ready to give and bless and show generosity.
Those are puny and shadowy glimpses of Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr GCON whom we salute as he turns 71.
Happy birthday, Baba!

Toni Kan is a former Head of PR at Globacom.

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