According to Folorunsho Alakija , even though Maryam Babangida gained her an appointment, she still had to put in the effort.
Mrs. Folorunsho Alakija , Africa’s wealthiest woman and Vice Chairman of Famfa Oil, says it pains her heart when people say and write that she acquired her oil well in the 1990s because she was First Lady Maryam Babangida’s tailor.
During Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida’s (IBB) eight-year reign as Nigeria’s military ruler between 1985 and 1993, Alakija, a philanthropist and businesswoman now worth more than $1 billion, received her big break in the lucrative oil and gas industry.
Mrs. Babangida, one of her high-profile clients, got her access and arranged her an appointment with the Petroleum Minister, but the rest was God’s plan for her life coming to fulfilment, she tells AriseTV.
While on a flight from London to Lagos, she says a foreigner acquaintance asked her to assist in communicating with Mrs. Babangida about an oil transaction.
Nigeria’s rulership, on the other hand, was more likely to award oil and gas contracts to Nigerians at the time, with the concept of “local content” beginning to take hold in the oil industry.
After her foreigner friend was denied entry into Nigeria’s oil and gas minefield by the powers that be, Alakija said she pondered the situation and wondered how she might acquire a contract and diversify her sources of income, given that she was only a stylist at the time.
After Mrs. Babangida dropped her name, she claims it took her three years and multiple meetings with various petroleum ministers to eventually get the oil bloc.
Her perseverance paid off in the end, but in different ways, she claims.
“At first, I was offered a position as a caterer for oil workers, as well as other low-paying professions in the oil and gas industry,” she explains.
She claims the oil well or bloc she eventually acquired, after numerous rejections and proposals, was not profitable at the time and had been rejected by everyone else since the technology to drill thousands of feet underground wasn’t yet available.
“As a result, one of my favourite mantras is to never accept a “No” for an answer. Everyone else’s eyes were closed to the oil well because of God. No one wanted that oil well because drilling it was so expensive, but God blessed me with it “she says, laughing.
Alakija also believes it is an insult to womanhood when all the men who acquired oil wells and oil contracts aren’t told that they owe it to someone in power, despite the fact that she is frequently reminded that the late Mrs. Babangida handed her an oil well on a silver platter.
Folorunsho Alakija , on her 70th birthday, encourages young people who look up to her to avoid the get-rich-quick mentality.