SMBNIGERIA PERSONALITY OF THE WEEK – MRS FOLORUNSO ALAKIJA!
Folorunso was born on 15 July 1951 to the family of Chief L. A. Ogbara in Ikorodu, Lagos State. She attended her Nursery education at Our Ladies of Apostles, Lagos from 1955–1958. At age seven, she travelled to the United Kingdom to continue her primary education at Dinorben School for Girls in Hafodunos Hall in Llangernyw, Wales between 1959–1963. On completion of her primary education, she attended “Muslim High School” in Sagamu, Ogun State, Nigeria. She then returned to England for her secretarial studies at Pitman’s Central College, London.
Alakija started her career in 1974 as an executive secretary at Sijuade Enterprises, Lagos, Nigeria. She moved to the former First National Bank of Chicago, which later became FinBank now acquired by FCMB (First City Monument Bank) where she worked for some years before establishing a tailoring company called Supreme Stitches. It rose to prominence and fame within a few years, and as Rose of Sharon House of Fashion, became a household name. As national president and lifelong trustee of the Fashion Designers Association of Nigeria (FADAN), she left an indelible mark, promoting Nigerian culture through fashion and style.
In May 1993, Alakija applied for the allocation of an oil prospecting license (OPL). The license to explore for oil on a 617,000-acre block—now referred to as OPL 216—was granted to Alakija’s company, Famfa Limited. The block is located approximately 220 miles south-east of Lagos and 70 miles offshore of Nigeria in the Agbami Field of the central Niger Delta. In September 1996, she entered into a joint venture agreement with Star Deep Water Petroleum Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Texaco) and appointed the company as a technical adviser for the exploration of the license, transferring 40 percent of her 100 percent stake to Star Deep.
Once word got out they struck oil, the Nigerian government snatched a 40% stake. Later, they took an additional 10%. For twelve years, she fought the government in court. The government argument was if Alakija and family were allowed to keep their bloc, they stood to make $10 million a day. Still, she persisted and in the end she won.
As of 2014, she is listed as the 96th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes. In May 2015 two Nigerian women, Finance Minister Ngozi akanji-Iweala and Alakija were listed among the world’s 100 most powerful women according to Forbes. Alakija was 86th on the list.
In obedience to the word of God and working according to His will and purpose, Folorunso and her husband founded a house fellowship which has grown to become a full-fledged Christian Ministry known as the Rose of Sharon Glorious Ministry International. She has authored several books including, “Alone with God” (a free annual Christian
devotional), “University of Marriage” (A guide for married couple), “Growing with the Hand that Gives the Rose” (her autobiography), “The Cry of Widows and Orphans” (a sensitization material on the plights of widows and orphans), “His Name Is….” (A collection of over 3000 names of God), “Folorunso Alakija Speaks -An Inspirational Book for All” (A collection of Mrs. Alakija’s Speeches), “Folorunso Alakija Speaks -An Inspirational Book for Christians” (A collection of the author’s Ministrations), “Wish for it? Pray for It” – (A series of three books containing a collection of her favorite scriptures for Husbands, Wives, and Parents) and her latest book for single men and women, “Window Shop for your Spouse” (A practical guide for choosing the best spouse).
Mrs. Alakija oversees her businesses and philanthropic enterprises working tirelessly and with boundless energy. She follows her evangelical calling with unbridled devotion, hoping to inspire the public, most especially the youth and women from all walks of life by sharing her values and her motto: “whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well” through motivational talks and speeches. In her speeches, as an encouragement to others, she reveals and introduces her covenant keeping God, even to those in the market place.
She accepts many invitations to speak and is acclaimed, nationally and internationally, in recognition of all her philanthropic work and endeavours. She has 8 Honorary Degree Awards from universities in Nigeria and the United States of America, she is also the first female Chancellor of a Public University in Africa.
She lives in Lagos, Nigeria with Modupe Alakija her beloved husband of over four decades, including four sons with their spouses and grandchildren.
Thank you Mrs Folorunso Alakija for inspiring us!