12 People Who Control Nigeria’s Economy


About 12 Nigerians currently control one-eighth (1/8) of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), a survey conducted by LEADERSHIP Weekend has revealed.  In the same way, the 10 most capitalised companies listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) make up over one-fifth of the country’s economy with many of the major shareholders drawn from the ranks of the 10 richest Nigerians.

An analysis of the Forbes 50 Richest Africans’ List indicates that the 12 Nigerians listed therein currently have an estimated total net-worth of $33.68 billion (N5.38 trillion) which represents 12.8 per cent or about one-eighth of Nigeria’s GDP figure put at $262.6 billion (N42 trillion) as at December 2012.

The 10 most capitalised companies, on the other hand, together are valued N9.35trn ($58bn). Curiously, LEADERSHIP Weekend investigation shows that none of the top 10 capitalised companies is an oil company, since oil exploration and drilling companies are not quoted on the NSE. It is estimated that more than half of the country’s 12 wealthiest individuals made their money and are still making money from the oil industry.

However, with the envisaged rebasing of Nigeria’s GDP, it is expected that the country’s GDP figure will increase, thus resulting in a drop in the percentage of the nation’s economy controlled by these individuals and companies.

According to the Forbes African 50 Richest list released in November 2013, Aliko Dangote is Africa’s richest man with a net worth of $20.8 billion. This shows that Dangote alone controls about 8 per cent of the nation’s GDP while the remaining 11 people control only 4.8 per cent of the GDP.

But Dangote could see his share of the country’s wealth reduced to about 5 per cent after the base year for measuring the size of the economy is brought forward from the 1990s to better reflect companies that have sprung up in the last two decades. Economists expect the National Bureau of Statistics to put the GDP at around $400bn when NBS finally comes out with a figure.

One of Dangote’s companies, Dangote Cement,  also comes tops as the most capitalised company with a market value of N3.92 trillion ($24.5bn), giving it close to 10 per cent of the GDP or about 6.25 per cent after rebasing.

As a subsidiary of the Dangote Group, the cement company got listed on the NSE in October 2010. The company announced a gross revenue of N103.03 billion with a profit of N54 billion as at September 30, 2013.

Telecom, banking and oil investor Mike Adenuga ranks fifth on the Forbes Africa Rich List and second in Nigeria with a net worth of $4.6 billion. This gives him 1 per cent

None of his companies, however, is on the top 10 of the most capitalised on the stock exchange with Globacom, his telecommunication company, the only major one that is completely privately owned and not listed on the exchange. The 61-year-old who hails from Ijebu, Ogun State, built his fortune in oil production and telecoms.

His mobile telecom outfit, Globacom, has over 25 million subscribers in Nigeria and the Republic of Benin. He also owns Conoil Producing, a large indigenous oil exploration company.

Having beaten Oprah Winfrey to be the richest black woman, Folorunsho Alakija, became Nigeria’s first female billionaire and the 13th richest African, thanks to a lucrative oil-producing asset with a total net worth of $2.5 billion. This oil giant contributes roughly 0.95 per cent to the GDP which could come to roughly 0.625 per cent when the NBS announces its new GDP figures.

After working as a secretary in a Nigerian merchant bank in the 1970s, Alakija quit her job to study fashion designing in England. She subsequently founded Supreme Stitches, a Nigerian fashion label that caters to upscale clientele, including Maryam Babangida, the late wife to Nigeria’s former military president, Ibrahim Babangida. The president awarded her company, Famfa Oil, an oil prospecting licence, OML 127, one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks.

Abdulsamad Rabiu joins the ranks of Africa’s richest and the world’s billionaires for the first time based on success at his BUA Group, whose biggest businesses are sugar refining and cement. BUA Group’s annual revenues are estimated at $2 billion. The group also does business in real estate, steel, port concessions, manufacturing, oil and gas and shipping.

After calculating Rabiu’s worth, Forbes magazine said his “stake in his commodities and cement empire, plus his real estate holdings in South Africa and London, are worth $1.2 billion, up from $670 million a year ago, primarily due to better information on Rabiu’s holdings and the revenue of his companies.” While not all his investments are traced to Nigeria, with $1.2bn to his name, Rabiu gets to have a say in how the country’s economy is managed, at least a 0.45 per cent and maybe 0.3 per cent after rebasing.

Delta State-born Nigerian banker Jim Ovia ranks the 28th richest African and fifth richest Nigerian. He founded the Zenith Bank Group, one of Nigeria’s largest financial services groups, with a market capitalisation of more than $4.5 billion (N728.4bn).

With a net worth of $900 million, Ovia is Zenith bank’s largest individual shareholder, with a 9 per cent stake. This gives Ovia a 0.34 per cent share of the current GDP and about 0.225 per cent of the expected figure. The bank on the other hand has a 1.72 per cent share of $262bn official GDP figure and could come down to 1.125 per cent after rebasing.

Ovia owns dozens of prime properties in pricey Nigerian neighbourhoods like Victoria Island and Ikoyi. Ovia also runs Visafone, a mobile telecoms outfit, and is partnering with Marriott to build a new five-star hotel in Lagos.

Retired Nigerian general and former defence minister Theophilus Danjuma ranks the sixth richest in Nigeria and 29th in Africa with a net worth of $700 million. His share of GDP stands at 0.267 per cent and could later become 0.175 per cent. He chairs South Atlantic Petroleum (Sapetro), a Nigeria-based upstream oil and gas exploration and production company which was awarded an oil block (OML 130) by the Sani Abacha regime in the 1990s, and in 2006 Danjuma sold a 45 per cent stake to Chinese oil company CNOOC for $1.75 billion, retaining a 5 per cent stake. In 2011, Danjuma said he had $500 million left from selling the block to CNOOC. He donated it to the TY Danjuma Foundation, a philanthropic organisation that is catering to educational, health and microcredits causes for the downtrodden. Danjuma also owns real estate in Lagos, including SAPETRO Towers.

Oba Otuddeko, industrialist and former president of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, who chairs Nigeria’s Honeywell Group, with interests in oil and gas, flour milling, real estate and marine transportation, is next after Danjuma on the Nigerian list but ranks 33rd richest in Africa with a net worth of $575 million. Honeywell Flour is publicly traded. He also owns a minority stake in mobile phone giant Bharti Airtel’s Nigerian operations, and a stake in Radisson Blu, a sprawling oceanfront hotel in Lagos, Nigeria.

Hakeem Belo-Osagie and Mohammed Indimi both share the 34th position with a Tanzanian with a net worth of $550 million.

Belo-Osagie is the chairman and a significant shareholder of the Nigerian operations of United Arab Emirates-based telecom provider Etisalat, Nigeria’s fastest growing mobile telecom network, with a subscriber base of 17 million, up from six million three years ago. Etisalat’s growth is the catalyst for Belo-Osagie’s increased fortune, up by $150 million from a year ago. He now controls 0.21 per cent of the economy.

Mohammed Indimi, chairman of Oriental Energy Resources, a private Nigerian oil exploration and production company, has a net worth of $550 million. His contribution to GDP could be as much 0.13 per cent after NBS announces its estimates of the country’s GDP. Oriental, which Indimi founded in 1990, has three projects in the offshore Nigerian oil and gas industry, including the Ebok Field, which produces 35,000 barrels a day. It shares ownership of the projects with U.K.-listed oil exploration company Afren Plc. The Ebok Field was awarded to Oriental Energy Resources in 2007 by a joint venture between Exxon-Mobil and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.

The 10th richest Nigerian who ranks 38 on the African list with a net worth of $500 million is Sani Bello, who is the founder of Amni International Petroleum Development Company, an oil exploration company with a 50 per cent interest in the Okoro Setu oil field, located in shallow waters offshore Nigeria. With half a billion dollars to his name, he contributes 0.19 per cent of GDP which could later be revised to 0.125 per cent.

Amni shares ownership of the Okoro Setu field with London-listed exploration firm Afren; production averages 18,200 barrels a day. Bello is also a minority stakeholder in mobile telecom firm MTN Nigeria. He is a former Nigerian military governor from Kano State and a one-time ambassador to Zimbabwe. His Sani Bello Foundation provides small loans and grants to young Nigerian entrepreneurs.

The other two are Femi Otedola and Tunde Folawiyo with net worth of $410 million and $400 million respectively.

Top 10 most capitalised quoted companies as at January 10, 2014, on the Nigerian Stock Exchange are:


Dangote Cement             N3.92 trillion
Nigeria Breweries          N1.23. trillion

Nestle                               N919.49 billion

Guaranty Trust Bank    N832.90 billion
Zenith Bank                     N728.4 billion
FBN Holding                   N504.17 billion
Guinness Nigeria           N356.9 billion
Lafarge Wapco              N345.18 billion
United Bank for Africa    N296.83 billion
Access Bank                     N219.73 billion


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