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Top Ten Businessmen/Entrepreneurs in Nigeria

10. Oba Otudeko
Oba Otudeko CFR is a Nigerian businessman who serves as the founder and chairman of the Honeywell Group.  He also serves as chair of FBN Holdings and founder of the Oba Otudeko Foundation. As of June 2017, his estimated net worth was US$550 million.
Ayoola Oba Otudeko was born in Ibadan, Oyo State, South-West Nigeria on 18 August 1943 to a royal family, thus making him an Omoba of the Yoruba people.

Oba Otudeko studied Accountancy at the Leeds College of Commerce Leeds, Yorkshire, United Kingdom (which is now part of the Leeds Beckett University).
Professionally, Oba Otudeko is a Chartered Banker, Chartered Accountant and a Chartered Corporate Secretary.
Oba Otudeko has also attended executive management training programmes at International Institute for Management Development (IMD), Harvard Business School and Hult International Business School (then known as Arthur D. Little School of Management).
Oba Otudeko was elected the 16th President of the Nigerian Stock Exchange in September 2006, and tried to transform the Nigerian capital market.
In addition to the Honeywell Group, Oba Otudeko is also Chairman of FBN Holdings Plc and has, at various points, been Chairman of Airtel Nigeria Limited and Fan Milk of Nigeria Plc. He was on the Board of First Bank of Nigeria Plc for 12 years, retiring as the Chairman in 2010. He has also held directorship positions in private companies operating in real estate, international trade and finance, and brewing, including Guinness Nigeria and Ecobank Transnational Inc.
Oba Otudeko was Chairman of the Nigerian-South African Chamber of Commerce (NSACC) and aimed to facilitate investment flows into Nigeria.
During his tenure as the NSACC Chairman, the volume of Nigeria-South Africa bilateral trade grew significantly from $16.5 million in 1999 to $2.9 billion in 2010.  He was also on the Board of the NEPAD Business Group – Nigeria.
9.  Jim Ovia

Jim James Ovia born November 4, 1951 is a Nigerian businessman. He founded Zenith Bank in 1990.
Jim Ovia holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Louisiana, Monroe, Louisiana, USA in 1979 and a B.Sc. degree in Business Administration from Southern University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA (1977). He is also an Alumnus of Harvard Business School.

He is the founder of Zenith Bank Plc, Nigeria’s tier-1 bank and one of the most profitable financial institutions in Nigeria until 2010, when he moved into the chairman role. During two decades of leadership, he helped position the bank as one of the largest and most profitable in Africa.
Ovia is the founder of Visafone Communications Limited and the chairman of both the Nigerian Software Development Initiative (NSDI) and the National Information Technology Advisory Council (NITAC). He is a member of the Honorary International Investor Council as well as the Digital Bridge Institute (DBI). He is the Chairman of Cyberspace Network Limited. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in the 50th convocation ceremony of the University of Lagos.
8. Orji Uzor Kalu
Orji Uzor Kalu was born in April 21, 1960. He is a Nigerian Businessman and a politician. He is the chairman of SLOK Holding and the Daily Sun and New Telegraph newspapers in Nigeria, he served as the governor of Abia State, Nigeria from May 29, 1999, to May 29, 2007. 
Prior to his election, he served as the chairman of the Borno Water Board and the chairman of the Cooperative and Commerce Bank Limited.
With only $35 to his name that he had borrowed from his mother, Kalu began trading palm oil, first buying the oil from Nigeria’s eastern regions and then selling it in the country’s northern regions. He then began buying and reselling furniture on a large scale. 
Kalu eventually established SLOK Holding, a conglomerate that would consist of a number of successful companies, including the Ojialex Furniture Company, SLOK Nigeria Limited, SLOK United Kingdom Limited, Adamawa Publishers Limited, SLOK Vegetable Oil, Aba, SLOK Paper Factory, Aba, SLOK United States Incorporated, SLOK Ghana, Togo, Cotonou, Guinea, South Africa, Liberia, Botswana, SLOK Korea, Supreme Oil Limited, SLOK Airlines, Sun Publishing Limited, and First International Bank Limited.
Kalu became the youngest Nigerian to receive the National Merit Award from President Ibrahim Babangida, at the age of 26 in 1986. He was selected as the Nigerian Chamber of Commerce’s Industrialist of the Year, and awarded the Humanitarian Award of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka’s Humanitarian Club, the Volunteer Award of the International Association of Volunteers, the National Merit Award, the EU Special Award in Brussels, and the World Bank Leon Sullivan Award.
Kalu has a degree from Abia State University, a Certificate in Business Administration from Harvard University and honorary doctorates from the universities of Maiduguri and Abia State.
According to Forbes, he had a net worth of $330 million and was ranked as the 49th richest in Africa in 2015.
7.  Tony Elumelu
Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu was born on the 22nd of March 1963, he is a Nigerian economist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is the chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, Transcorp and founder of The Tony Elumelu Foundation.
Elumelu holds the Nigerian national honors, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2003.[3] He was recognized as one of “Africa’s 20 Most Powerful People in 2012” by Forbes magazine.

In his early career, Elumelu acquired and turned Standard Trust Bank into a top-five player in Nigeria. In 2005 he led the acquisition of United Bank for Africa (UBA), later transforming it from a single-country bank to a pan-African institution with more than seven million customers in 19 African countries.
Following his retirement from UBA in 2010, Elumelu founded Heirs Holdings, which invests in the financial services, energy, real estate and hospitality, agribusiness, and healthcare sectors. In the same year, he established the Tony Elumelu Foundation, an Africa-based and African-funded philanthropic organisation.
In 2011, Heirs Holdings acquired a controlling interest in the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (Transcorp), a publicly quoted conglomerate that has business interests in the agribusiness, energy, and hospitality sectors. Elumelu was subsequently appointed chairman of the corporation.
Elumelu serves as an advisor to the USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa (PCGA) Partners Forum. He sits on the Nigerian President’s Agricultural Transformation Implementation Council (ATIC). He is also vice-chairman of the National Competitiveness Council of Nigeria (NCCN), whose formation he was a key driver in, and serves as Co-Chair of the Aspen Institute Dialogue Series on Global Food Security. He additionally chairs the Ministerial Committee to establish world-class hospitals and diagnostic centres across Nigeria, at the invitation of the Federal Government and the Presidential Jobs Board, engineered to create 3 million jobs in one year. He also serves as a member of the Global Advisory Board of the United Nations Sustainable Energy for All Initiative (SE4ALL) and USAID’s Private Capital Group for Africa Partners Forum.

6. Abdul Samad Rabiu
Abdul Samad Isyaku Rabiu CON was born 4 August 1960 in Kano, Nigeria. He  is a Nigerian businessman. His late father, Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu, was one of Nigeria’s foremost industrialists in the 1970s and 1980s. Abdul Samad is the founder and chairman of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate concentrating on manufacturing, infrastructure and agriculture and producing revenue in excess of $2.5 billion. He is also the chairman of the Nigerian Bank of Industry (BOI).

In 2013, Forbes estimated Abdul Samad’s wealth at $1.2 billion, putting him in the global billionaire’s club.

Abdul Samad Rabiu established BUA International Limited in 1988 for the sole purpose of commodity trading. The company imported rice, edible oil, flour, and iron and steel.

In 1990, the government, which owned Delta Steel Company, contracted with BUA to supply its raw materials in exchange for finished products. This provided a much-needed windfall for the young company. BUA expanded further into steel, producing billets, importing iron ore, and constructing multiple rolling mills in Nigeria.
A few years later, BUA acquired Nigerian Oil Mills Limited, the largest edible oil processing company in Nigeria. In 2005 BUA started two flour-milling plants, in Lagos and in Kano. By 2008, BUA had broken an eight-year monopoly in the Nigerian sugar industry by commissioning the second-largest sugar refinery in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2009 the company went on to acquire a controlling stake in a publicly-listed Cement Company in Northern Nigeria and began to construct a $900 million cement plant in Edo State, completing it in early 2015.
5. Theophilus Danjuma

General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma GCON (Rtd) was born on the 9th of December 1938. He is a Nigerian soldier, politician, multi-millionaire businessman and philanthropist. He was Nigerian Army Chief of Army Staff from July 1975 to October 1979. He was also Minister of Defense under President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. Danjuma is chairman of South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO).

Nigeria America Line (NAL) was formed in 1979 by General TY Danjuma (Rtd), Nigeria American Line (NAL) began business and initially leased a ship called ‘Hannatu’ which traded between Lagos and Santos in Brazil when Nigeria’s bilateral trade agreement had opened the sea routes to economies in the South American markets. NAL went on to win patronage from Nigeria’s National Supply Company (NNSC) to bring in government goods. He also established COMET Shipping Agencies Nigeria Limited  in 1984, primarily to act as an agent for Nigeria American Line (NAL). COMET has grown and by the late nineties became one of the largest independent agents operating in Nigeria with experience in handling many types of vessels and cargo. In 2009 Comet handled over 200 vessels at the ports of Lagos, Port Harcourt, Calabar and Warri.
South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO) is a Nigerian oil exploration and production company that was created in 1995 by General T. Y. Danjuma. The ministry of Petroleum Resources in Nigeria awarded the Oil Prospecting License (OPL) 246 to SAPETRO in February 1998.
4. Folorunso Alakija

Folorunso Alakija was born on the 15th of July 1951, she is a Nigerian billionaire businesswoman. She is involved in the fashion, oil, real estate and printing industries.  She is the group managing director of The Rose of Sharon Group which consists of The Rose of Sharon Prints & Promotions Limited, Digital Reality Prints Limited and the executive vice-chairman of Famfa Oil Limited. She also has a majority stake in DaySpring Property Development Company.  Alakija is ranked by Forbes as the richest woman in Nigeria with an estimated net worth of $2.1 billion. As of 2015, she is listed as the second most powerful woman in Africa after Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the 87th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. 

Alakija started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. She moved to the former First National Bank of Chicago, which later became FinBank now acquired by FCMB (First City Monument Bank)[11] where she worked for some years before establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches. It rose to prominence and fame within a few years, and as Rose of Sharon House of Fashion, became a household name. As national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), she left an indelible mark, promoting Nigerian culture through fashion and style.

As of 2014, she is listed as the 96th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. Folorunsho has a foundation called the Rose of Sharon Foundation that helps widows and orphans through scholarships and business grants.
3. Femi Otedola
Femi Otedola  was born on the 4th of November 1962. He is a Nigerian businessman, philanthropist, and former chairman of Forte Oil PLC, an importer of fuel products. Otedola is the founder of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, and the owner of a number of other businesses across shipping, real estate and finance. He has recently invested in power generation as part of the liberalisation of the sector in Nigeria.

In 1994, Otedola established CentreForce Ltd, specializing in finance, investments and trading. Otedola is also the owner of Swift Insurance.
Otedola is chief executive and president of SeaForce Shipping Company Ltd and was at one point Nigeria’s largest ship owner after extending control over the distribution of diesel products. One of his ships, a flat bottomed bunker vessel with a storage capacity of 16,000 metric tonnes, was the first of its kind in Africa.
In January 2006, Otedola was appointed a non-executive director of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, a multi-sectoral conglomerate established in 2004 by then-President Obasanjo to respond to market opportunities requiring heavy capital investment in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa. He held this post until February 2011.
Otedola has made a number of real estate investments, including a N2.3 billion acquisition in February 2007 by Zenon of Stallion House in Victoria Island in Lagos, from the Federal Government.The following month he was appointed chairman of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja and tasked with driving its expansion and upgrade to a seven star faciility. He is the owner of FO Properties Ltd.  Otedola has been reported to be a financier of the People’s Democratic Party and is said to have contributed N100 million to President Obasanjo’s re-election expenses in 2003. He was a close ally of President Goodluck Jonathan. He has served as a member of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) since 2004, and the same year was appointed to a committee tasked with developing commercial relations with South Africa. In 2011, Femi Otedola was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to Nigeria’s National Economic Management Team.
In 2007, Otedola was appointed chairman and chief executive of Africa Petroleum through the acquisition of a controlling stake in the business. In December that year he personally acquired a further 29.3 per cent of the company for N40 billion. A merger of this personal holding with Zenon’s brought Otedola’s total stake to 55.3 per cent.
In December 2010, African Petroleum rebranded, changing its name to Forte Oil PLC. Otedola carried out a restructuring of the business, focusing on technology and improved corporate governance. Forte Oil returned to profit in 2012.
In 2013, as part of the Federal Government’s push to liberalise Nigeria’s ailing power sector, Otedola financed 57% of Forte Oil subsidiary Amperion Ltd, which acquired the 414 MW Geregu Power Plant for $132 million.

2.  Mike Adenuga
Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr, GCON (born 29 April 1953), is a Nigerian billionaire businessman, and the second-richest person in Africa. His company Globacom is Nigeria’s second-largest telecom operator, which has a presence in Ghana and Benin. He owns stakes in the Equitorial Trust Bank and the oil exploration firm Conoil (formerly Consolidated Oil Company). Forbes has estimated his net worth at $9.4 billion as of 2019.

In 1990, he received a drilling license and in 1991, his Consolidated Oil struck oil in the shallow waters of Southwestern Ondo State, the first indigenous oil company to do so in commercial quantity.
He was issued a conditional GSM license in 1999; after it was revoked he received a second one when the government held another auction in 2003. His telecom company Globacom spread quickly and started challenging the giant MTN Group. It launched services in Benin in 2008, and has continued its spread across Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire, with more licenses currently being prospected in other West African countries.
He was named African Entrepreneur of The Year at the first African Telecoms Awards (ATA) in August 2007.
In 2009, Adenuga was detained for money laundering by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. He subsequently left the country and lived in London until the Umaru Musa Yar’Adua regime granted him a pardon.
In May 2015, Adenuga made a takeover bid to purchase Ivorian mobile telecom’s operator Comium Côte d’Ivoire for $600 million.

1.  Aliko Dangote

Aliko Dangote GCON was born on the 10th of April 1957. He is a Nigerian businessman, investor, and owner of the Dangote Group, which has interests in commodities in Nigeria and other African countries.  As of October 2019, he had an estimated net worth of US$8.8 billion.
Dangote is ranked by Forbes magazine as the 100th-richest person in the world and the richest man in Africa, and peaked on the list as the 23rd-richest person in the world in 2014. He surpassed Saudi-Ethiopian billionaire Mohammed Hussein Al Amoudi in 2013 by over $2.6 billion to become the world’s richest person of African descent.

The Dangote Group was established as a small trading firm in 1977, the same year Dangote relocated to Lagos to expand the company. Today, it is a multi-trillion-naira conglomerate with many of its operations in Benin, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo. Dangote has expanded to cover food processing, cement manufacturing, and freight. The Dangote Group also dominates the sugar market in Nigeria and is a major supplier to the country’s soft drink companies, breweries, and confectioners. The Dangote Group has moved from being a trading company to be the largest industrial group in Nigeria including Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement, and Dangote Flour.

In July 2012, Dangote approached the Nigerian Ports Authority to lease an abandoned piece of land at the Apapa Port, which was approved. He later built facilities for his flour company there. In the 1990s, he approached the Central Bank of Nigeria with the idea that it would be cheaper for the bank to allow his transport company to manage their fleet of staff buses, a proposal that was also approved.
In Nigeria today, Dangote Group with its dominance in the sugar market and refinery business is the main supplier (70 percent of the market) to the country’s soft drinks companies, breweries and confectioners. It is the largest refinery in Africa and the third largest in the world, producing 800,000 tonnes of sugar annually. Dangote Group owns salt factories and flour mills and is a major importer of rice, fish, pasta, cement, and fertiliser. The company exports cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seeds, and ginger to several countries. It also has major investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles, oil, and gas. The company employs more than 11,000 people and is the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa.

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