Top ten richest men in Nigeria 2023
Explore Nigeria's wealthiest men, from Aliko Dangote to the Chagourys, who have built vast fortunes across diverse industries.
Despite the struggling economic reality of today's Nigeria, a country renowned for its diverse industries and dynamic entrepreneurs, there exists an elite league of individuals who have ascended to the zenith of financial success. These illustrious figures, often referred to as the "richest men in Nigeria," embody the pinnacle of wealth and influence within the nation.
In this article, we delve into the lives and fortunes of the wealthiest individuals in Nigeria, unveiling the remarkable journeys that have crowned them the richest businessmen in Nigeria and the richest people in Nigeria.
From the indomitable Aliko Dangote, who stands as the richest person in Nigeria, to the formidable Bola Ahmed Tinubu and the enterprising Arthur Eze, these rich guys in Nigeria have left an indelible mark on the nation's economic landscape.
Along with their source of wealth as well as the intriguing narratives and factors that have catapulted them to their coveted elevated financial status, these are the richest men in Nigeria as of 2023:
10. Benedict Peters
Benedict Peters is a prominent African billionaire businessman with significant interests in the oil and gas and mining sectors. Founder and CEO of Aiteo Group, Nigeria's largest indigenous oil producer, and Bravura Holdings, a mining company with operations across Africa, he is the 10th richest man in Nigeria.
Benedict Peters has an estimated net worth of $2.7 billion, and he is recognised as one of the wealthiest individuals in Africa.
Peters began his career in the oil and gas industry during the early 1990s, initially working at Ocean and Oil Services Limited before later moving to MRS Oil and Gas Limited, where he held various positions, ultimately becoming the managing director.
In February 2008, Peters rebranded his company from Sigmund Communecci to Aiteo Group, which operates one of the largest petroleum tank farms in Nigeria, boasting facilities with a capacity exceeding 250 million litres and situated on over 100,000 square metres of land. The company also manages the Abonnema Storage Terminal.
A significant milestone for Aiteo was its 2014 acquisition of a controlling stake in the Oil Mining Lease (OML) and the Nembe Creek Trunk Line (NCTL) in the Eastern Niger Delta from Royal Dutch Shell Plc.
OML is a substantial block with 11 oil and gas fields, covering an area of 983 square kilometres in the Niger Delta, which houses some of Nigeria's most prosperous states.
Peters is also the founder and CEO of Bravura Holdings, a mining company that operates in several African countries, including Ghana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Namibia, South Africa, and more.
The company has made notable acquisitions, such as a platinum mine in Zimbabwe and concessions for cobalt mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, among others.
In April 2017, Aiteo Group signed a five-year partnership agreement with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), worth approximately 2.9 billion naira ($3.8 million), becoming the NFF's Official Optimum Partner and providing financial support for the salaries of coaches of NFF national teams, including Super Eagles boss Gernot Rohr.
9. Kase Lukman Lawal
Possessing a substantial net worth exceeding $3 billion, Kase Lukman Lawal, an oil and gas magnate, ranks as the 9th richest man in Nigeria and one of the five richest black individuals in the United States.
Kase Lawal serves as the CEO and chairman of Camac Holdings Inc., an oil and gas exploration and refining company headquartered in Houston, Texas.
Since 1986, he has steadily expanded this family-owned enterprise into a billion-dollar business with his remarkable achievements, including topping Black Enterprise's prestigious list of the top 100 black-owned firms in America in 2002 and 2003, overseeing an expansive global presence with offices worldwide, and employing over 1,000 individuals.
In 1989, Lawal's life took a pivotal turn when he met Rilwanu Lukman, a Nigerian politician and oil industry insider who encouraged Lawal to shift his focus from agriculture, his initial investment, to oil.
Capitalising on his connections in Nigeria, Lawal established Allied Nigeria and secured oil production rights to extensive land areas in Nigeria.
A partnership with Conoco in 1991 resulted in over $500 million invested in Nigeria, leading to successful oil exploration projects and significant production.
Throughout the 1990s, Camac Holdings expanded its reach, opening offices in several global locations and launching key subsidiaries, including Allied Energy and Oceanic Consultants.
These firms held stakes in both inland and offshore oil and gas properties and engaged in drilling operations, oil transportation, technical advisory services, and construction for the oil industry across continents.
In 2002, Camac Holdings achieved the top position on Black Enterprise's list of America's top 100 black-owned firms, drawing significant attention to Lawal's low-profile company.
8. Cletus Ibeto
Hailing from the entrepreneurial hub of Anambra, Cletus Madubugwu Ibeto, Nigeria's eighth richest man, is a distinguished businessman who serves as the head of The Ibeto Group, which stands as the largest business enterprise originating from Nnewi, a city renowned for its entrepreneurial vigour.
In the early 1980s, during a period of economic challenges caused by the oil crash and a controversial import licencing system in Nigeria, Nnewi experienced a period of growth.
Rising from this was the Ibeto Group, under the leadership of Cletus Ibeto, which played a pioneering role in the region and the nation's trading and manufacturing development.
Cletus Ibeto, who has a net worth of $3.8 billion, embarked on his business journey as a spare parts import dealer, following an apprenticeship in the motor parts industry, a common path taken by many eastern traders.
In March 1988, he transitioned from direct importation of lead-acid automotive batteries and plastic motor accessories to manufacturing after completing his factory in Nnewi.
By 1995, The Ibeto Group had grown into one of the largest auto spare parts manufacturing enterprises in the country.
On October 2, 1996, he established Ibeto Petrochemical Industries Ltd., which engages in the blending of oil lubricants and the production of various petroleum products for both local and international markets.
The company boasts one of the largest liquid storage facilities for petroleum products in Nigeria, with a capacity exceeding 60,000 metric tonnes, strategically located at Apapa Wharf and Ibru Jetty Complex in Lagos.
In May 2018, Ibeto Cement Company Limited made headlines by announcing a reverse merger with Century Petroleum Corporation, a publicly traded petroleum exploration and production company based in the United States.
This move was aimed at expanding into global markets and simplifying the listing process. Ibeto acquired a commanding 70% stake in the company, and Cletus Ibeto assumed the role of Chairman of the Board of Directors.
As well as being one of the richest men in Nigeria, Cletus Ibeto's contributions to the Nigerian manufacturing landscape have earned him national honours, including the Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in 2008 and the Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) in 2012.
7. The Chagoury brothers
Among Nigeria's richest people, Gilbert and Ronald Chagoury stand as towering figures, boasting an empire of diverse assets and investments that have propelled them to the pinnacle of financial prominence.
These aged Nigerian-Lebanese billionaires command a net worth estimated at a staggering $4.2 billion, securing their place among the country's richest elite.
At the heart of The Chagoury brothers' wealth is the Chagoury Group, a conglomerate founded in 1971.
This industrial empire extends its formidable reach across a multitude of sectors, including construction, real estate, flour mills, water bottling and purification, glass manufacturing, insurance, hotels, furniture manufacturing, telecommunications, IT, catering, and international financing.
Among Chagoury's notable assets is the Eko Hotel and Suites, perched on Victoria Island. What began as the Eko Holiday Inn in 1977 has evolved into Nigeria's largest hotel, a crown jewel under the ownership of L'Hotel Eko Le Meridien—a company firmly entrenched within the Chagoury Group.
In 2008, The Chagourys embarked on a grand venture—the development of Eko Atlantic City, a modern urban centre nestled on Victoria Island in Lagos. This ambitious real estate project, driven by South Energyx Nigeria, a subsidiary of their conglomerate, aims to create a thriving hub of residential and commercial properties.
The Chagoury legacy also includes Hitech Construction, founded in 1988 as a division of the Chagoury Group, which specialises in civil engineering, particularly combating coastal erosion in West Africa. Its impressive track record includes safeguarding vulnerable coastlines from the encroaching Atlantic Ocean.
ITB Nigeria Limited, established in 1995 by Gilbert Chagoury and his brother Ronald, is a leading construction company in Nigeria.
Armed with over two decades of industry experience, ITB has solidified its reputation as a premier provider of construction services in the country.
Ronald and Gilbert Chagoury's path to the echelon of Nigeria's richest men has not been without controversy, notably due to their association with the late Sani Abacha, a former Nigerian military head of state.
However, Chagoury's resilience in the face of challenges and his unwavering commitment to philanthropy have solidified their place as prominent figures in Nigeria's business landscape.
6. Ibrahim Babangida
General Ibrahim Babangida, with a net worth of $5 billion, holds the position of the second-richest politician in Nigeria and the country's sixth-richest person. Often referred to as "Maradona" or "The Evil Genius," Babaginda served as the head of state in Nigeria, effectively controlling the Federal Republic from August 27, 1985, until his retirement in August 1993.
It is widely believed that General Babangida ascended the ranks of Nigeria's richest men by secretly amassing a multi-billion dollar fortune through successive ownership of stakes in numerous Nigerian companies.
In 2011, a Forbes article estimated his net worth at US$12 billion, although Babangida himself has consistently rejected these claims, asserting that his government "were saints."
He is known to own a luxurious mansion in Minnesota, which reflects his substantial wealth, with his current estimated net worth standing at $5 billion.
As one of the richest men in Nigeria, General Babangida's opulent lifestyle includes a collection of expensive cars and properties across the globe.
Furthermore, he is purported to own the UK-based Fruitex International London Limited, with an estimated worth of $20 billion.
This company's nature of business is documented as "Agents in the sale of a variety of goods" and "Services to oil and gas extraction."
Fruitex International London Limited has affiliations with at least twelve Nigerian-based companies and one in Equatorial Guinea.
5. Arthur Eze
A distinguished businessman serving as the CEO of Atlas Oranto Petroleum, the largest privately owned petroleum exploration and production company in Nigeria, Arthur Eze's contributions to both business and philanthropy have solidified his position as the 5th richest man in Nigeria.
Notably, in July 2023, Arthur Eze, whose net worth towers at $5.8 billion, displayed his commitment to education and development by donating N200 million towards the advancement of Azman University in Kano.
Eze's journey into the business world began with the establishment of Atlas Oranto Petroleum in 1991, which holds an impressive portfolio of 22 oil and gas licences spanning 12 locations across Africa, with assets in Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Sudan, Uganda, and various Atlas Oranto blocks. It is recognised as the largest holder of oil exploration blocks on the African continent.
Arthur Eze's entrepreneurial ventures expanded beyond the petroleum industry when, in 1992, he founded Triax Airlines, seizing the opportunity created by the deregulation of airlines in Nigeria. Operating from Enugu Airport, the airline maintained three Boeing 727s until it ceased operations in 2000.
Eze's involvement in politics has been notable, particularly in Anambra State where he has been a significant financial supporter of the People's Democratic Party (PDP), contributing nearly $100 million to support politicians in the state.
His influential role in Anambra's political landscape has earned him the title of "godfather," symbolising his authority in political matters in the South-Eastern region of Nigeria. It is even said that the formation of the 'All Progressive Grand Alliance' (APGA) took place in his sitting room.
4. Mike Adenuga
With his notable company, Globacom, standing as the country's second-largest telecommunications operator and extending its presence to Ghana and Benin, Chief Michael Adeniyi Agbolade Ishola Adenuga Jr., with a net worth of $6.1 billion, holds the distinction of being the fourth richest person in Nigeria.
Adenuga possesses stakes in Equitorial Trust Bank and the oil exploration firm Conoil, formerly known as Consolidated Oil Company.
According to Forbes' estimation, Mike Adenuga's net worth is valued at $6.1 billion, with his journey to immense wealth commencing in 1979, when, at the age of 26, he achieved his first million by selling lace and distributing soft drinks.
In 1990, a significant milestone was reached when he secured a drilling licence before his company, Consolidated Oil, made a groundbreaking discovery by striking oil in the shallow waters of Southwestern Ondo, one of Nigeria's wealthiest states, in 1991.
This achievement marked a historic moment as it established Consolidated Oil as the first indigenous oil company to discover oil in commercial quantity.
Mike Adenuga's entrepreneurial acumen and significant contributions to the business landscape earned him recognition as the African Entrepreneur of The Year at the inaugural African Telecoms Awards (ATA) in August 2007.
Further underlining his expansion in the telecommunications sector, in May 2015, Adenuga made a notable takeover bid to acquire Ivorian mobile telecom operator Comium Côte d'Ivoire for a sum of $600 million.
3. Abdul Samad Rabiu
Hailing from a lineage of industrialists, with his late father, Khalifah Isyaku Rabiu, being a prominent figure in Nigeria's industrial landscape during the 1970s and 1980s, Abdul Samad Isyaku Rabiu, with a net worth of $8.2 billion, is the third richest man in Nigeria.
Rabiu serves as the founder and chairman of BUA Group, a Nigerian conglomerate that specialises in manufacturing, infrastructure development, and agriculture, boasting an impressive revenue exceeding $2.5 billion. Notably, he also holds the position of chairman at the Nigerian Bank of Industry (BOI).
In July 2020, Forbes estimated his wealth at $3.2 billion, positioning him as the 716th wealthiest individual in the global billionaire's club.
Furthermore, in January 2022, he garnered attention as the second richest man in Nigeria, and by April 2022, he held the title of the fifth-richest person in Africa, boasting a net worth of $6.7 billion. As of April 2023, Abdul Samad Rabiu had ascended to the position of the 4th richest man in Africa.
Rabiu's entrepreneurial journey commenced with the establishment of BUA International Limited in 1988, primarily focused on commodity trading.
The company engaged in the importation of essential commodities such as rice, edible oil, flour, and iron and steel.
A significant turning point occurred in 1990 when the government, owner of the Delta Steel Company, engaged BUA in a contract to supply raw materials in exchange for finished products, providing a substantial boost to the young company.
In subsequent years, BUA expanded its operations into the steel industry, producing billets, importing iron ore, and establishing multiple rolling mills within Nigeria.
This diversification strategy propelled the company's growth. BUA's acquisitions included Nigerian Oil Mills Limited, the largest edible oil processing company in Nigeria.
In 2005, BUA ventured into the flour-milling sector, establishing plants in Lagos and Kano, two of Nigeria's wealthiest states.
A notable milestone occurred in 2008, when BUA broke an eight-year monopoly in the Nigerian sugar industry by inaugurating the second-largest sugar refinery in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additionally, in 2009, BUA acquired a controlling stake in a publicly listed Cement Company in Northern Nigeria and embarked on the construction of a $900 million cement plant in Edo State, successfully completing it in early 2015.
These strategic moves, a direct challenge to Africa's wealthiest man, solidified Abdul Samad Rabiu's status as a prominent figure in Nigeria's business landscape.
2. Bola Ahmed Tinubu
Chief Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu is a prominent politician, businessman, and current president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His significant wealth, estimated at around $8.4 billion, places him as Nigeria's second richest man and the country's wealthiest politician.
One of Tinubu's notable achievements is his pivotal role in breaking the People's Democratic Party's (PDP) 16-year dominance in Nigerian politics and establishing himself as an influential figure in Nigeria's contemporary political landscape.
Tinubu's journey began after his graduation from Chicago State University, where he initially worked in the United States. Upon his return to Nigeria, he contributed to his wealth by working for ExxonMobil.
In addition to his political career, Tinubu has a successful business portfolio, as he is associated with various international firms, including Oando, among others.
While the majority of Tinubu's wealth is attributed to his business endeavours, it's worth noting that his involvement in politics, including two terms as the governor of Lagos State and his current presidential term, has also significantly contributed to his standing as one of the richest men in Nigeria.
Tinubu has a diverse range of business interests, spanning agriculture, hospitality, media, oil and gas, and real estate. While he has denied ownership of some companies, he has acknowledged ownership of others and is known to invest in blue-chip company stocks.
As the national leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the president of Africa's wealthiest nation, Tinubu continues to exert substantial influence in Nigerian politics. His real estate holdings include valuable assets, such as a N650 million home in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Tinubu's wealth extends to his impressive collection of luxury vehicles, including a $600 million G-wagon, multiple Mercedes-Benz cars, a Range Rover, and other high-end automobiles. He also possesses a $60 million Bombardier Global Express XRS private plane.
1. Aliko Dangote
Renowned for his role as the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Dangote Group, the largest industrial conglomerate in West Africa, Aliko Dangote's immense net worth of $11.2 billion, which positions him as the richest person in Nigeria and Africa, the world's wealthiest black individual, and the 124th richest person globally according to Forbes, can be attributed to his entrepreneurial acumen and remarkable journey. His journey to wealth began in earnest in 2007, when he became Nigeria's first billionaire.
The Dangote Group traces its origins to a humble trading firm established in 1977, the same year Dangote relocated to Lagos with the ambition of expanding the company.
Aliko Dangote's entrepreneurial journey began with a $500,000 loan (worth $3.89 million today when accounting for inflation) from his wealthy uncle, which enabled him to engage in trading activities, including the sale of bagged cement, rice, and sugar.
Dangote's visionary approach in the 1990s, proposing that the Central Bank of Nigeria entrust his transport company with managing their staff buses, further marked his path to success.
Today, the Dangote Group has evolved into one of Africa's largest conglomerates, with a presence in international markets such as Benin, Ghana, Zambia, and Togo.
This diversified conglomerate has transitioned from trading to dominating various sectors in Nigeria, including Dangote Sugar Refinery, Dangote Cement, and Dangote Flour, achieving a prominent position in the sugar and refinery markets.
Dangote's business empire extends to salt factories, flour mills, and substantial imports of rice, fish, pasta, cement, and fertiliser. Furthermore, the Dangote Group plays a pivotal role in exporting agricultural products like cotton, cashew nuts, cocoa, sesame seeds, and ginger to multiple countries. The conglomerate also holds significant investments in real estate, banking, transport, textiles, and the oil and gas sector.
In February 2022, Dangote's business ventures expanded to the automotive industry with the establishment of the Dangote Peugeot Automobiles Nigeria Limited (DPAN) factory in Kaduna.
Additionally, in May 2023, he commissioned the Dangote Refinery in Lekki, Nigeria, which aims to transform Africa's largest oil producer into an export hub for petroleum products.
Staining his status as Nigeria's richest man were revelations from the HSBC leaks in 2015, which disclosed Dangote's assets in a tax haven in the British Virgin Islands.