Adenuga Receives France’s Highest National Honour

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  • Africa’s force of nature enjoys rare tribute from French government
  • Why he is the first Nigerian to ever receive the widely coveted honour

By Lanre Alfred

History is often written by champions. Sometimes they rewrite it. But very few champs excite the splendid tribute of a cheer in the wake of their most glorious feats. Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr., the entrepreneur extraordinaire, effortlessly commands the relentless tribute of a cheer from far and near. Thus in homage to his citizenship of humanity and relentless strides at rewriting the African business narrative, the French government invested him with the Chevalier de la Legion d Honneur, the highest French decoration and one of the most famous in the world, last month. A most exquisite, splendid and star-studded event was held at the Bellisima, Ikoyi, Lagos, where the French Ambassador to Nigeria made the formal presentation of the honour to the Africa’s most decorated and respected business genius.

Yes, the glitter and gloss of bullion blocks pale to the radiance of Dr. Mike Adeniyi Adenuga Jnr., GCON, CSG, CLH. If virtue truly is the fount of honour, then The Spirit of Africa, as Adenuga is fondly called, is a virtuous man. Among other feats, the great honour was presented to Adenuga for his “remarkable contribution to the development of the French-Nigerian relations, his appreciation of the French culture and also for the advancement and betterment of humanity.”

Established in 1802 by Napoléon Bonaparte to recognize eminent accomplishments of service to France, the Chevalier de la Legion d Honneur, France’s premier award, has been presented on behalf of the President of the French Republic to only the most deserving citizens in all fields of activity.

It is noteworthy that Adenuga is the first Nigerian to ever receive the award since inception. The investiture ceremony, which held on Friday, September 15, was a classy event that attracted the crème de la creme of Nigerian society and French and international diplomatic communities. The French Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Denys Gauer, conferred upon Adenuga, the honour in the presence of the special guests.

While expressing his gratitude, Adenuga stated that he feels greatly humbled and motivated to do even more for the betterment of humanity. He said, “I thank you and through you the President, Government and good people of France for the singular honour of conferring on me the title of Chevallier de la Legion D’honneur. And my heartfelt appreciation and thanks to your entire embassy staff who played a role in concretizing and making this award ceremony a great success. Please, rest assured of my continued attachment to the ideals of your great nation and my determination to actively pursue measures that would help to promote stronger socio-economic relations between our countries. Thank you also Your Excellency for your nice, touching words which through your kind auspices has been a most memorable experience.”

Notwithstanding his depth as an entrepreneur, philanthropy and citizenship of humanity, Adenuga covets no vanities thus unlike many other multi billionaires, he demands no free verses, heroic couplets or ornamental rhymes to glorify his personage as a man. Adenuga is hardly given to such infectious vanities.
He simply wears his entrepreneurial strength and savvy like a badge of honour, on his chest; burnishing it with sweat, as true virtuous men do. He stands tall, wading through odds with the courage of a knight and confidence of a champion.

Adenuga presents a rare contradiction to the notion that titans are only appreciated in death. He is a titan. He is very much alive and has become a legend in the hearts and minds of men. Stories are told of his greatness; echoes of his philanthropy are fed like fodder to the masses. In a land dogged by human and infrastructural lapses, his humanity and entrepreneurial ingenuity nourish the glands of kith and kin even as his genius oils the wheels of industry.

Yet, unlike the proverbial warrior who lives to sing the song of his own deeds and derring-do, Adenuga remains impressively humble and immune to conceit, treading a rare path to acclaim thus, attracting honour in torrents, from home and abroad.

This is why he is perpetually on song, among his clan and league of extraordinary men in the world. Adenuga emerges as the perfect symbol of business excellence and he is seen at home and abroad, as a historic figure, the personification of a business calculus within Nigeria and the African continent.