The number one dream of every Nigerian parent is to see their children earn a university degree, get a high paying job and live happily ever after.

Without miming words, this was the dream we were sold on as kids, “To graduate and get a good job” and most parents / children pursued this dream with passion. But unfortunately, the dream of go to school, secure a good job and live happily is now a fairy tale to the average Nigerian youth… Yes!

With over 40million+ unemployed graduates in Nigeria, most youths are now waking up to the reality on ground that having an academic certificate or degree is not the gateway to escape the hardship and struggles of life.

An interesting quote by Rasaq Okoya below talks about how education gives false confidence and doesn’t really push people to work hard.

“I have nothing against education. But at times, education gives people false confidence. It makes people relax, trusting in the power of their certificates rather than in working hard.”
Below is a list of prominent Nigerian entrepreneurs who didn’t attend tertiary institution or dropped out.

1. Olorogun Michael Ibru – founder of the Ibru Organization and head of one of the richest family in Nigeria.

Michael Ibru (1930) is a prominent Nigerian businessman from Agbarha-Otor, Delta State. He is the head of the Ibru Organization, one of the largest conglomerates in Nigeria. As a traditional chieftain of his homeland, Ibru bears the tribal honorific Olorogun and often uses it as a pre-nominal style. This title is also borne by many of the members of his large family in the same way.

Michael Ibru attended Igbobi College, and acquired a school certificate in 1951.

2. Orji Uzor Kalu – Orji Uzor Kalu (born April 21, 1960) is the chairman of SLOK Holding and the Daily Sun and New Telegraph newspapers in Nigeria, who 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. Kalu was also a member of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) and the chairman of the PPA Board of Trustees. He was the party’s candidate for president in the April 2007 general election.

Billionaire founder of Slok Group. He was rusticated from university for his participation in a student protest. Though he was later granted Amnesty by the school authority, he rejected it and chose to become an entrepreneur.

3. High Chief Olu Benson Lulu Briggs – Revered Nigerian statesman O.B. Lulu-Briggs is the founder and chairman of Moni Pulo Limited, an oil exploration and production company. Moni Pulo was awarded its first oil block in 1992 when the Nigerian president at the time, Ibrahim Babangida, was encouraging indigenous participation in the upstream sector of the oil and gas industry. The company currently has oil blocks in Ondo state, Abia and Akwa-Ibom state.

Its flagship project, OML 114, produces 10,000 barrels per day. Along with his wife, a pastor, he funds the O.B Lulu Briggs Foundation, which provides humanitarian services to rural communities.

4. Rasaq Okoya – Razak Akanni Okoya is a billionaire industrialist and Aare of Lagos[10] born in Lagos on January 12, 1940 to Tiamiyu Ayinde and Alhajha Idiatu Okoya. He had his only formal education at Ansar-un-deen primary School, Oke popo, Lagos. He is the owner and founder of Eleganza group of companies that has a market spanning Western Africa.

Founder of Eleganza Group, he did not attend University.

5. Cosmos Maduka – Billionaire Founder of Coscharis Group (sole distributor of BMW vehicles in West Africa), dropped out of elementary school.

His father died when he was four years old, which denied him the benefit of formal education but with only 400 dollars as investment capital he built a conglomerate with interests spanning the globe. He is the sole distributor for BMW and Ford cars in Nigeria. How did Cosmos and Charity Maduka create the Coscharis phenomenon despite the challenges inherent in their background and the vicissitudes of a developing country?

Cosmos Maduka is a native of Anambra State, precisely from Nnewi North Local Council in Anambra State, Nigeria. He was born to Peter Maduka. His father died when he was just four. It was very difficult for his mother to take care of them. This was before the Civil War. But his mother, as a single parent, had to take care of him and other children his late father left behind. He had to drop out from school at elementary three because it was difficult for his mother to cope with the family responsibilities.
Dr. Maduka started hawking ‘akara’ for the mother. His mother discovered his entrepreneurial spirit and would fry a pan of ‘akara’ each for him to sell.

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6. Cletus Madubugwu Ibeto – Billionaire Founder of the Ibeto Group (Petrochemicals, Cement manufacturing). Cletus Ibeto started out as a spare parts import dealer, after spending some time as an apprentice in the motor parts business, a gradual step taken by many eastern traders.

In March 1988, he stopped direct importation of lead acid automotive battery and plastic motor accessories after completing his factory in Nnewi. By 1995, The Ibeto Group had become one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing outfits in the country.

7. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma – Founder of Innoson Group, manufacturers of IVM motors and Innoson Plastics.
The youngest of six, Dr. Innocent Ifediaso Chukwuma (OFR) was born in Nnewi, Nigeria. Chukwuma first attempted to start a business in the patent medicine trade, but later developed a stronger passion for motorcycle spare parts. In 1981, Chukwuma ventured fully into the trade under the name Innoson Nigeria Limited.

This company flourished and multiplied into many companies under the big umbrella called the Innoson Group. In February 2007, Chukwuma incorporated Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited (IVM) to produce sundry commercial automobiles, utility vehicles and passenger cars, in collaboration with a consortium of Chinese auto manufacturers. IVM has become a major supplier of buses to the country’s transportation sector, including the mass transit scheme launched in 2012 by President Jonathan.

8. Sir Tony Ezenna – CEO of Orange Drugs, Inherited a patent shop from his father and grew it into a conglomerate. Tony Ezenna is a non Executive Director of TransCorp and Chief Executive Officer/Managing Director of Orange Drugs, a dominant player in Nigeria’s pharmaceutical and toiletries sector.

Since its establishment in 1993, the company gained a strong presence in the healthcare business with a number of over-the-counter drugs and other pharmaceutical products which are strong and popular brands.Chief Ezenna has made several philantropic engagements across Nigeria.

9. Vincent Obianodo – founder, The Young Shall Grow Motors (the largest transport company in Nigeria), RockView Hotels.
The story of this wealthy business man is quite an inspiring one as he started from a very humble beginning way back in the Northern part of Nigeria where he spent most of his teenage years.
Chief Vincent Obianodo hails from Umueze Nneni, Anambra State. Married to Ifeoma, the union is blessed with 5 kids. He is the largest employer of Ndi Neni and a great philanthropist. He is the brain behind YSG group of Companies, a wholly owned private Nigerian conglomerate comprising of viable subsidiaries in the Transport, Hospitality, Real Estate, Oil & Gas, Dredging & Quarry, and Rural Market Development Sectors.

The parent Company, Young Shall Grow Motors Transport Limited was found in 1972 by the Chairman, Chief Dr.Vincent Amaechi Obianodo MON (Member Order of the Niger), a business Mogul with a Midas Touch. He is the Chairman of YSG Transport, Rockview hotels, YSG Dredging, Vineegas, Vineeoil, and YSG properties. He was the co-owner of Cellcom Telecoms, a Fixed CDMA Telecommunication Company which was later sold to Visafone in 2006.

10. Emmanuel Isichei Ugochukwo Ojei – Nuel Ojei Holdings LTD (Sole distributor of Mazda, Nuel Autos, Emo Oil). He didn’t attend university, just technical college.

Dr. Emmanuel Isichei Ugochukwu Ojei, the Executive Chairman/Managing Director, was born in Lagos in 1951, had his early education in Lagos and higher education at Issele-Uku Technical College, Issele-Uku, Delta State. He holds an honorary doctorate degree of the Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State, Nigeria.

He started his working career with Rutam Motors Limited (a part of the Ibru Organization) in 1973, and left there in 1976 to establish his own business. Presently, he owns several companies in different parts of the world engaged in diverse business activities, including construction, banking, insurance, manufacturing, hotel management, automobile distribution and petroleum development and marketing. He is a Nigerian citizen and married with children.

11. Ladi Delano – CEO of Bakrie Delano, (a $1billion investment firm).

He dropped out of his Political Science course in the second year of University.
The 32 year-old CEO was quoted as saying:

There are two types of education and each form of education is equally as valuable. The academic approach to education is vital, no business can operate and be successful without those who have spent the time to understand the academic side of anything. However, that approach to education is not necessarily for everybody. And in my case it wasn’t.

12. Bode Akindele – (Modandola Group).

Chief Akindele had his primary education at Olubi Memorial School, Ibadan and Lisabi Grammar school, Abeokuta before he plunged fully into the business world.

Today, even if Chief Akindele is known more for his business acumen, his knack for philanthropy and generosity knows no bounds as he is said to have single handedly sponsored many projects and using his financial clout to better the condition of the underprivileged, irrespective of their tribe, religion or sex. Chief Akindele is indeed a billionaire par excellence.

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There are billionaires and there are billionaires, but only few of these stupendously rich mortals are legitimate, genuine, authentic and very clean and open about how they made their millions, billions and trillions if you like. One man who belongs to this latter group of legitimate rich men and women is Chief Bode Akindele, the Parakoyi of Ibadanland. Because of his transparent tremendous wealth and philanthropic generosity, Chief Bode Akindele has become one of the most famous business magnates in Nigeria, Africa and even the entire universe.

A catalogue of his business empire will astound anyone getting to know this information for the first time, and all these tentacles of his business empire are verifiable. That he has over the years been steadily consolidating his vast business network, thus transforming him into a successful and auspicious businessman, is not in any way conjectural but a real fact with proofs to show for it. For the record, Chief Akindele, a man of easy nature and mien, is extremely wealthy and this definitely ranks him comfortably in the top hierarchy of the few authentic billionaires in the country.

His conglomerate in Nigeria operates under the name MODANDOLA GROUP OF COMPANIES and his business interest spans from maritime to properties and manufacturing

13. Late Alhaji Alhassan Dantata – Kolanut trader. He was the wealthiest man in West Africa during his time. He started the Dantata dynasty and his descendants are some of the richest people in Nigeria (Dangote / Dantata family).

Dantata’s father was Abdullahi, a man from the village of Danshayi, near Kano. Dantata was born in Bebeji in 1877, one of several children of Abdullahi and his wife, both of whom were traders and caravan leaders. His father died in Bebeji, and his mother moved to Gonja, now in northern Ghana. The children were too young to succeed to their father’s position and to manage his considerable wealth. They all received their portion according to Islamic law. Maduga Amarya, like her mother in law, was a trader of wealth in her own right. Indeed she was known to be such a forceful character that nobody in the Zango would take her to wife. She therefore decided to leave the children in Bebeji, in the care of an old slave woman, while she moved to Accra where she became one of the wealthier Hausa traders. The slave woman was known as “Tata” from which circumstance young Alhassan became known as Alhassan Dantata because of her role as his ‘mother’ (” Dan-tata” means “son of Tata” in Hausa language).

Alhassan was sent to a Qur’anic school (madrasah) in Bebeji and as his share of his father’s wealth (as so often happens), seemed to have vanished, he had to support himself. The life of the almajiri (Qur’anic student) is difficult, as he has to find food and clothing for himself and also for his malam (teacher) and at the same time read. Some simply beg while others seek paid work. Alhassan worked and even succeeded at the insistence of Tata in saving. His asusu, “money box” (a pottery vessel) purchased by Dantata and set in the wall of the house can still be seen.

When he was about 15 years of age, Alhassan joined a Gonja bound caravan to see his mother. He purchased some items from Bebeji, he sold half of them on the way and the rest in Accra. When he saw his mother, he was very delighted hoping she would allow him to live without doing any work since she was one of the wealthier local traders. After only a rest of one day, she took him to another malam and asked him to stay there until he was ready to return to Kano and he worked harder in Accra than he did in Bebeji. After the usual reading of the Qur’an, Alhassan Dantata had to go and beg for food for his malam, and himself. When he worked for money on Thursdays and Fridays, Alhassan Dantata would not be allowed to spend the money for himself alone, his malam always took the lion’s share (this is normal in Hausa society). After the visit, his mother sent him back to Bebeji where he continued his studies. Even though now a teenager, Dantata continued to insist that he must save something everyday.

Alhassan Dantata (1877– 17 August 1955) was a northern Nigerian kola nut trader and the wealthiest man in West Africa at the time of his death.

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