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BBC Series Spotlights King of African Oil

18 Feb 2013

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Wale Tinubu


By  Yinka Olatunbosun
Changing Fortunes, a new six-part documentary series launched by BBC World News has lit up the story of the King of African oil as part of its effort to tell stories that inspire courage. The series reveals how wealth is changing hands and crossing continents while the rich are becoming younger, more female and less Western. The series, which features innovators and entrepreneurs who have success stories to recount currently featured Group Chief Executive, Oando Plc, Jibril Adewale Tinubu. Tinubu has a history of landmark achievements. In 2007, he received the Global Youth Leader Award by the World Economic Forum in recognition of his achievements as one of the world’s leading executives under the age of 41.

In the documentary, Tinubu reveals how from youth he had projected a life of success and how his private ambition has yielded phenomenal gains for national, and indeed world economy. His life story typifies an entrepreneur’s- born to take risks. Raised by middle-class parents, Tinubu and his brothers enjoyed the parenting that prioritises sound education. As a result, he studied law at the University of Liverpool, England on the funding of his parents who, according to him managed to pay his fees and well as his brothers’.

As a student, Tinubu proved his unusual courage by diverting his tuition into car trading business on a tip-off by a friend that a German company would sell a number of BMW cars at a reasonable price. The huge profit realised by Tinubu and his friend spurred him on to continue the business until they “crashed their own market”. In spite of the reality of disappointing moments in business, Tinubu is determined not to forgo the dream of making huge profits. Having practised law for two years, he decided that law practice was simply “uninspiring”. He went into shipping when he saw a need in shipping services. His friend needed a ship to transport his oil. Yes, it was Tinubu’s turn to make some money and that he did. He recounts his first experience of travelling on water and how he chided himself for taking such risks with high waves.

In 2003, Tinubu rebranded his company as Oando Plc which has grown to become Nigeria’s largest oil distribution network. The company then diversifies into oil and gas production as the first indigenous oil producing company. This feat was achieved through hard work, perseverance and self-sacrifice. In the documentary, Tinubu said he is someone who loves music a great deal and always knows latest songs. But at the time he became engrossed in the business, there was no time to follow latest songs and when his friends discovered that, they were quite surprised. For him, personal sacrifice is a must in building a successful business. Tinubu is of the view that no matter how lucrative foreign jobs are, they are no match with the financial returns that indigenous entrepreneurs enjoy in the industry.

The script of the documentary situates Tinubu’s story in the context of globalisation. For instance, the opening scenes connect China, the world’s second highest importer of fuel to Tinubu’s story by establishing that there is a need and there is someone who is already filling that need. The use of still photographs is also interesting as it gives the viewer an insight into the earlier life of the narrator. Few scenes are re-enacted while the story takes shape.  In general, the story can be a tool for driving patriotism, innovation and courage.

Tags: Life and Style, Arts and Review, Featured, African Oil

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