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Nigeria Ten (10) Top Business Icons



Some are born great while others strive to become greatness by dint of hard work in this world referred to by the late music maestro, Bob Nesta Marley, as a rat race. Nigeria have such men and women.

As Nigeria marks its 60th Independence Anniversary,  EMMANUEL IRIOGBE, chronicles some of Nigeria’s top 10 big players that have impacted positively on lives and contributed their quota in the growth of this Great country. They are drawn from all sphere of life ranging from businesses, ICT, politics, etc.


  • Aliko Dangote (Businessman)

Aliko Dangote with an estimated net worth of US$8.3 billion (July 2020),  making him the 162nd wealthiest person in the world and the richest person in Africa, established as small trading firm in 1977, the same year Dangote relocated to Lagos to expand the company. Today, it is a multi-trillion-naira conglomerate. 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.


Dangote has diversified into telecommunications and has started building 14,000 kilometres of fibre optic cables to supply the whole of Nigeria. As a result, Dangote was honoured in January 2009 as the leading provider of employment in the Nigerian construction industry.

Dangote reportedly added $9.2 billion to his personal wealth in 2013, according to the Bloomberg Index, making him the thirtieth-richest person in the world at the time, in addition to being the richest person in Africa.

2) Tony Elumelu (Banker and Businessman)

Tony Onyemaechi Elumelu is an African 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 honours, the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) and Member of the Order of the Federal Republic (MFR) in 2003.[2] He received Nigeria’s National Productivity Order of Merit in 2019.[3]

Elumelu is included in Time magazine ‘s 100 Most Influential People of 2020.[4]


3) Femi Otedola (oil magnate and Businessman)



Femi Otedola  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 March 2009, Otedola became the second Nigerian after Aliko Dangote to appear on the Forbes list of dollar-denominated billionaires, with an estimated net worth of $1.2 billion. In October 2009,


4) Hosa Okunbo ( Businessman and oil magnate)

Idahosa (HosaWells Okunbo is a Nigerian business magnate, investor, philanthropist and trained commercial pilot. He serves as either chairman or director on numerous company boards in Nigeria, spanning multiple business sectors such as the agro-allied, petroleum, telecommunications, power, real estate and banking industries.


Okunbo established Hoslyn Ventures Nigeria Ltd., a company that was involved with procurement in the Nigerian petroleum sector.

Okunbo is the founder and chairman of the many Nigerian companies:

Okunbo is member of the Board of Directors of NatCom Development and Investment Ltd., which is the holding company Nigerian telecommunications giant NTEL.


5) Jim Ovia (Banker and Businessman)


Jim James Ovia is a Nigerian businessman and a banker. He founded Zenith Bank in 1990.

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.[1] He was the recipient of a Nigerian national honor.

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).


6) TY Danjuma ( Soldier, Politician and Businessman)


General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma GCON  (Rtd)  is a retired Nigerian army general, politician and businessman who has played a key role in the history of Nigeria. Danjuma amassed an enormous fortune through shipping and petroleum.[1]

Military career

Danjuma was commissioned into the Nigerian Army as second lieutenant and platoon commander in the Congo.

He was Chief of Army Staff from July 1975 to October 1979. He was also Minister of Defence under President Olusegun Obasanjo‘s administration.


Danjuma,s Business concerns

Nigeria America Line (NAL)

Formed in 1979 by General TY Danjuma (Rtd), Nigeria American Line (NAL)

COMET Shipping Agencies Nigeria Ltd

COMET Shipping Agencies Nigeria Limited was established in 1984 by Danjuma, primarily to act as an agent for Nigeria American Line (NAL).

South Atlantic Petroleum Limited (SAPETRO)

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. The block covers a total area of 2,590 square kilometres (1,000 sq mi).

NatCom Development & Investment Limited Nigerian business tycoon, Gen. TY Danjuma, was named Board Chairman by the NatCom Development & Investment Limited “NatCom”, trading as ntel. The announcement was made on Wednesday, July, 2016 following General Danjuma’s inaugural board meeting.


7) Philip Emeagwali ( computer scientist)


Philip Emeagwali is a Nigerian computer scientist He won the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for price-performance in high-performance computing applications, in an oil reservoir modelling calculation using a novel mathematical formulation and implementation


He travelled to the United States to study under a scholarship following completion of a correspondence course at the University of London. He received a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Oregon State University in 1977.[7] He later moved to Washington D.C., receiving in 1986 a master’s degree from George Washington University in ocean and marine engineering, and a second master’s in applied mathematics from the University of Maryland.

Supercomputing: Emeagwali received the 1989 Gordon Bell Prize for an application of the CM-2 massively-parallel computer. The application used computational fluid dynamics for oil-reservoir modelling. Emeagwali’s simulation was the first program to apply a pseudo-time approach to reservoir modelling.

8) Abdul Samad Isyaku Rabiu (Businessman and Industrialist)


Abdul Samad Isyaku Rabiu  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 a revenue in excess of $2.5 billion. He is also the chairman of the Nigerian Bank of Industry (BOI).

On July 7, 2020, Forbes estimated Abdul Samad’s wealth at $3.2 billion, putting him 716th in the global billionaire’s club.


9) Chief Olusegun Osunkeye, CON

Chief Osunkeye started his professional Accountancy training with Messrs Akintola Williams and Co. in 1959. In 1965,  he qualified as a Chartered Accountant and worked briefly in the United Kingdom with a leading firm of Chartered Accountants. He later returned to Nigeria in 1967 and worked for UAC Nigeria. That was the beginning of a very successful career in corporate Nigeria that culminated in his retirement as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Nestle Nigeria Plc.


The former Chairman of Nestle Nigeria Plc is a stickler for excellence and is a three-time recipient of the National Honours Awards, CON, OFR and OON, “for his outstanding virtues and in recognition of his significant contributions, through the private sector, to the industrial, commercial and agricultural development of the country.”



10 Chief Dr Innocent Chukwuma (INNOSON)



Chief Dr Innocent Chukwuma is the founder and Group Chairman of IVM Innoson Group and an entrepreneur of high repute.

Through his ingenuity, he transformed the small trading business (Innoson Nigeria Ltd) he started in 1981 after his education to a corporate organization of international recognition. He dazed his contemporaries when he became the first private Nigerian to locally assemble and subsequently manufacture motorcycles as well as vehicles in Nigeria.

Under the chairmanship of Dr Innocent Chukwuma OFR, Innoson Nig Ltd moved from trading and importation to manufacturing of motorcycle parts and also leading to the development and establishment of other companies. In recognition of his achievements he was given a national award by the government of Former President Goodluck Jonathan at the Nigeria Centenary Award ceremony in Abuja in 2014.










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