Bolu Akin-Olugbade: On Glitz, Glamour and Grandeur
Cosmopolitan and debonair, Prince Bolu Akin-Olugbade is a perfect blend of inherited riches and self-acquired fortune. Born with a silver spoon in his mouth, he did not always have everything on a platter of silver. Inventive and dogged, the suave blueblood had to become intrepid, selfless and ambitious to create his world of grandeur. Extraordinary in his appetite for adventures, the rather polite Akin-Olugbade who reeks of opulence unravels his world of fame, fortune and fortitude as narrated by Funke Olaode
The glitz is apparent. The royalty is implied. The fortune is omnipresent. Luxury is his signature. His presence is golden and the grandeur is out of this world. Like a larger-than-life character, he waltzes out of the majestic Rolls Royce. The calmness of his countenance is devoid of arrogance. Inside, as he sits opposite an exquisite painting, the glitter of his gold chain – that slithers down his neck – illuminates his dark-coloured attire. He flashed a smile and offered his hand in a handshake, revealing what seems like a customised Rolex wristwatch. As the handshake is exchanged, you can feel the luxurious warmth and experience the allure of the gold-diamond rings that impeccably adorn his tender fingers.
His subdued flamboyance carries with it royal elegance – of an African prince whose opulence and influence straddle the globe. “What do I have to offer THISDAY Glitterati?” he seems to say as he adjusts the gold-plated frame of his glasses. On him, all that glitters is gold – and you can add that the ones that dazzle are diamonds.
For the Abeokuta high chief, it is as the Yoruba are wont to say, ‘Bi ile se ri, awo lati mo.’ (a home of splendour is reflected in a man’s glowing appearance) Without hard feelings, everyone prays to be like him, loves to be like him and craves for his magnanimity – he is respected and courted my many. He is a man of the people, for the people but born of royal and fabulously rich family. Few wealthy men will engender excitement in you like he does. He oozes with class effortlessly and wears luxury like a second skin.
Welcome to the world of Prince Bolu Akin-Olugbade. It is all too easy to tag him as a money man; an individual with humongous riches both inherited and acquired. He is one of the richest men in the world. With abundant wealth spanning four decades, one remarkable thing about Akin-Olugbade is his ability to live above scandals and ward off anything that can taint his image.
From his posh home, exotic wonders on wheels and his beautiful wife of over three decades, he has a superlative taste for the good things of life. Legendary for his understated but flamboyant dress and grooming, he lives big anywhere he lands in the world. He never settles for less but the very best – in terms of class, taste and luxury. Apart from his love for cars, another passion he has acquired is luxury wristwatches. He has suddenly become a collector of the most exotic pieces.
How did he get to the level he has attained today? Did he rely on the family fortune or decide to toe his own path to success? Those who have followed his life’s trajectory in his early 20s when he joined the millionaire club would attest to the fact that everything about the man and his many successes didn’t happen overnight. It takes many years of painstaking hard work with eyes fixed on a brighter future – Akin-Olugbade has always wanted to be his own man.
To him, he gets what he wants – not by flaunting his opulence, dropping names or by bullying. But with captivating shyness, an unfaltering courtesy and a conviction that convinces, he has made headways. Thus at 24, he became a millionaire in 1984. However, his ascendance to the top was hardly borne on the wings of his privileged background. If it has anything to do with his pedigree, the details are probably too negligible to be noted.
Meticulous in attitude to life and industrious in his approach to business, Bolu, as Akin-Olugbade is fondly called disclosed that he was forced to be self-reliant and establish his drive for financial independence courtesy of his father, Chief B.O. Akin-Olugbade, who displayed tough fatherly love to him. “My father had two American cars that were giving him problems, so after abandoning them in the garage for a long time, he decided to give them to me,” he said.
Ecstatic, Akin-Olugbade took possession of the choice automobiles only to discover that they were more of a liability than he could ever imagine. The cars were fuel guzzlers and in order to cope with the financial constraints imposed upon him by ownership and running of the two automobiles, he approached his father to request a raise in his allowance. He complained that he needed the raise in order to maintain the cars efficiently. But to his chagrin, his father bluntly declined to grant his request, asking him to deal with the problem.
That singular act was emblematic of his father’s firm resolve to encourage his children to be responsible and self-reliant. According to Akin-Olugbade, his father persistently told all his children that he had no inclination of bequeathing anything more than sound education to them. “My father made it known to us that he wasn’t going to leave anything for his children and may be, my brothers and sisters didn’t take him seriously, but I did. So, I was determined to make my own money,” he said.
Hence, Akin-Olugbade had to get creative and devise ingenious means of dealing with his problems – that was how the entrepreneurial spirit in him was born. Despite being born into a privileged family – as his father was a foremost businessman and politician who was a leader of the opposition in the Federal Parliament – young Akin-Olugbade had to hustle and burn sweat to become successful and ascend the corporate height that he currently occupies.
Being ingenious meant he had to tap into his father’s rich business contacts. He was fully aware of his father’s esteemed position as a director in a cement company. Hence, having established contacts and curried favour from his father’s business associates, he began to approach companies who wanted cement and he began to supply them. In no time, he had expanded his business dealings to tomato puree and rice supply.
In the course of his hustle, he chanced on his first million naira. It is noteworthy though that at the time he made his fortune, having N1 million was akin to owning an equivalent of $1million – and he was just 24. That same year, he got married to Oladunni, his wife of over 30 years.
Besides his enviable business acumen and matrimonial bliss, the business mogul flaunts an expensive taste in fashion and lust for luxury cars. After buying his first Rolls Royce in 1984, he developed an abiding love for the British symbol of elegance and class that he has since acquired 10th of the choice automobile brand including the two latest Rolls Royce Phantom models. His 10th Rolls Royce, the 2019 Rolls Royce SUV called the Cullinan will be among the first to be made by the Rolls Royce Factory in December 2018.Production of the Cullinan by Rolls Royce. Iß fact, he happens to be the first person in Africa to pay for the 2019 Rolls Royce Cullinan and his Cullinan will be the first to be made for African. The luxury car has all the specifications and options and come with a staggering $450,000. The 2019 Rolls Royce Cullinan will be delivered to the business guru in Nigeria in January 2019.
The majestic man does not hide his taste saying, “I have different concepts of how I spend money. I spend money on cars because I have always loved cars. I bought my first Rolls Royce in 1984 and now, I am on my ninth Rolls Royce. I believe in dressing well and I travel a lot.”
Although his cars come in a variety of colours, one striking feature of the vehicles is the fact that they all have similar number plates inscribed with his first name: Bolu.
There is something else about him: Akin-Olugbade professes an intense love for luxury wristwatches. As you read, he owns an impressive closet of the most expensive and rare collection of contemporary and vintage timepieces. You should not raise an eyebrow when he tells THISDAY: “There is a Yoruba proverb that says, ‘If you are going to eat a frog, eat the one that has eggs.’ So, if I am going to buy a car, for instance, why not buy the best.”
That explains his exquisite acquisition of and penchant for luxurious cars and pricey timepieces.
Ascribing Akin-Olugbade’s rise to the top to his enviable and impressive pedigree alone however, would be tantamount to lumping him in the same divide as several spoilt brats who grew up without lifting a finger to work. That’s not Akin-Olugbade. The prince is remarkably different. Born on April 2, 1956, he is no stranger to wealth. Yet, his journey to affluence and acclaim was borne on the wings of his relentless will to develop himself, establish his independence and improve his lot without banking on the overwhelming array and import of his father’s wealth alone.
Prince Bolu prepared himself well by attending Ivy League schools. He attended Corona School, Yaba; King’s College, Lagos; London University; University of California (master’s in Law); and Cambridge University where he got his doctorate specialising in Company Law. His business interests cut across law, property development, construction, manufacturing, logistics, distribution, maritime and offshore services, investment banking, etc.
Having equipped himself with quality education and corporate boardroom exposure, he decided to dabble into politics spurred by an overwhelming ambition to serve and improve the lot of his people. Thus, he ran for president twice. The first time he tried was in 1992. But he had to step down and let go his ambition because the late philanthropist and businessman, Chief Moshood Abiola, was vying for the same position.
Again in 2003, he expressed his interest to be Nigeria’s president. Yet, another of his kinsmen showed similar interest in the presidency. The Ogun State native had to kiss his ambition goodbye due to the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo as a presidential aspirant then.
What is responsible for his deep interest in politics having conquered the business world? Akin-Olugbade disclosed that his interest in politics was inspired by the endemic poverty he sees around him and his belief that Nigerians deserve a better life and leadership. According to him, life is hardly about making money alone but using such riches to impact lives positively.
The suave and cosmopolitan prince, who effortlessly occupies a top spot in the league of Nigeria’s richest individuals, experienced a rare epiphany in life when he was diagnosed as having a cancerous tumour. Although it was eventually discovered to be a false alarm, the scary experience drew him closer to God.
On the strength of his sterling achievements and citizenship, the illustrious son of Abeokuta was recently honoured with the title of Aare Onakakanfo (Chief of Defence of Owu Kingdom).
As the traditionally-crowned generalissimo of Owu Kingdom, Akin-Olugbade understands that he represents a symbol of security and strength to his people. He professed unwavering love and compassion for them. He said that guaranteeing their well-being and security remains his utmost objective in life. Such infectious humaneness epitomizes Akin-Olugbade’s capacity for love and pursuit of the good of others.
As he rises from his seat, following the conclusion of the very brief interview, the suave prince once again offered a handshake. If handshakes are worth their weight in gold, Akin-Olugbade’s will be more than many ounces of gold – plus the glitz and the glitter.