A mighty wind blew night and day. It stole the Oak Tree’s leaves away. Then snapped its boughs and pulled its bark until the oak was tired and stark. But still the oak tree held its ground while other trees fell all around. The weary wind gave up and spoke “ How can you be standing Oak?” The Oak Tree said “ I know that you can break each branch of mine in two, carry every leaf away, shake my limbs and make me sway.
But I have roots stretched in the earth growing stronger since my birth. You will never touch them, for you see they are the deepest part of me. Until today, I wasn’t sure of just how much I could endure. But now I’ve found with thanks to you, I am stronger than I ever know”
This ode to the famous Oak Tree penned by Johnny Ray Ryder Jnr really encapsulates the life of Forbes-rated Billionaire and astute businessman, Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr, the Chairman of Globacom.
Just like the Oak tree is unlike any other tree in its habitat, so is Dr Adenuga different. In terms of humility, wealth, pedigree, philanthropy and investment, the businessman fondly called “The Guru” is one of a kind on the continent of Africa.
Dr Adenuga Jr, like the Oak Tree has now been universally acknowledged as a symbol of endurance, a strong believer that impossibility is nothing and a man divinely blessed with the go-gettting spirit.
The towering symbol of enterprise and excellence has not only made a name for himself at home, he has become an international champion-and that is why he now adorns the undisputable title as the most decorated African billionaire alive.
No other living African comes close to his record of being decorated with the highest National honour of three countries. In Nigeria, he was conferred with the national award of Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON) by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, while in Ghana, he was conferred with the Companion Of The Star of Ghana (CSG) by President John Dramani Mahama and in France, French President, Emmanuel Macron decorated him with the Chevalier de La Legion d’Honeur (Commander of the Legion of Honour).
Dr Adenuga, the illustrious investor and entrepreneur extraordinaire got the last of these enviable awards at a ceremony in highbrow Ikoyi, Lagos.
Though it had been announced long ago, the formal presentation in Lagos, Nigeria was done in typical Adenuga style: a very private and dignified affair with no frills.
Being the first Nigerian ever to be so decorated with such an award, there was no doubt that Dr Adenuga was in buoyant mood. The day was also extra special because he was also going to join the French President to declare open the new-look Alliance Francaise Lagos facility which has now been re-christened, Alliance Francaise, Mike Adenuga Centre.
Explaining why the French government decided to confer the honour on Adenuga, President Macron said Dr Adenuga Jr. is “a true role model for Africa” who has contributed immensely to the growth of the African and French economy”.
Macron applauded Adenuga, one of the continent’s most benevolent philanthropist, on his promotion of the French language and culture in Nigeria, and also commended Bella Disu, Adenuga’s daughter, who conceived, coordinated and executed the Alliance Française project.
The French President said Nigeria has what it needs to surmount all challenges it may be facing now and it is blessed with great minds like Dr Adenuga. Noting that Nigerians have the “incomparable spirit of entrepreneurship, tenacity and ability to think out of the box”.
The French President who disclosed that he had previously worked in Nigeria for two and half years attested to the doggedness of Nigerians, affirming that if Nigeria succeeds, Africa is bound to succeed.
The Alliance Francaise Fondation is the premier cultural organisation in the world, founded on 21 July 1883, it now has 800 local associations in about 133 countries.
It is supported by grants from the French Government and the generosity of patrons, including its founding fathers who are notable Frenchmen like the scientist, Louis Pasteur, the publisher, Armand Colin and writers, Jules Verne and Ernest Renan.
The renovated Alliance Francaise Mike Adenuga Centre which is a villa now has new additions which have transformed it almost completely. There are spectacular alterations done to the amphitheatre and the internal auditorium to give it a touch of timeless elegance.
The accommodation has been improved, increased and enhanced, and sure to provide guests with an unforgettable experience. And also superb spaces have been creatively created for the library and administrative offices .
Furthermore, the modernisation that has gone into the building is simply breath-taking and only befitting of an organisation with the size and stature of Alliance Francaise Fondation.
It is also symbolic that the visit coincides with the beautiful renovation and refurbishment of the new Alliance Francaise building in Lagos. This is because of President Macron’s avowed belief that cultural interaction can only benefit the improvement of progressive relations between countries.
The audience at the event included Dr Adenuga’s wife, Mrs. Titi Adenuga, his children, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos, Nobel Laureate Professor Wole Soyinka, Oba of Lagos, HRM Rilwan Akiolu, General Alani Akinrinade (Rtd), General Aliyu Gusau (Rtd), Ovation Publisher, Bashorun Dele Momodu, top government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and captains of industry.
In the final analysis, it would be said that President Macron applauded the visionary foresight of Dr Mike Adenuga especially in the business terrain which informed the conferment of such a high honour.
This sentiment is similar to that expressed by then Ghanaian President, HE John Dramani Mahama who noted that Adenuga was awarded the Companion of the Star of Ghana “in recognition of your unique and outstanding contribution to business enterprise both in Ghana and the continent of Africa at large”.
The President also stated that through Adenuga’s creative business exertions, “you have touched many lives in Ghana. You have provided employment for our teeming youth, artists, footballers and many more. I am particularly proud of you. This award is our way of saying a simple THANK YOU.”
The citation on Dr Adenuga also commended his “transformational achievements in the telecommunications industry”, chief of which was the laying of the Glo 1 optic fibre cable linking several African countries including Ghana with Europe and America.
President Mahama commended Dr Adenuga’s association with telecommunications in Ghana since Glo Mobile’s launch and praised the massive capital investment injected into the project.
In his acceptance remarks, Dr Adenuga noted that President Mahama’s “recognition and support of my modest contributions to the development of Ghana’s economy have come as a great source of pride and encouragement to me. This is more so as it is coming from Your Excellency, whose sterling qualities of leadership I admire greatly”.
Dr Adenuga remains one of the finest pillars of investment in Africa with multi billion dollars interests in telecommunications, oil, banking and real estate among others. His telecommunications investment footprint spans across Nigeria, Ghana, Benin Republic, Senegal, Gambia and Cote d’Ivoire.
He set up Globacom in Nigeria in 2003, coming two years behind other multinational operators. But with an Africa-focused entry strategy which sought to ensure that people got billed for only the exact time consumed, the brand turned into a household name and quickly rose to become the second biggest network in Nigeria.
His vision to run Africa’s biggest and best network saw the expansion into Benin Republic and Ghana and the conception of the world’s first and only private optic fibre cable which runs from Europe to Lagos with dedicated link to the United States and spurs across West African countries.
Dr Adenuga has indeed faced innumerable storms over the years, and like the Oak and our own, Iroko tree, he has withstood all those challenges and has kept soaring to greater heights.