In 1999, Paschal Dozie, the former chairman and founder of Diamond bank , pitched a business idea to a man called Sir Victor Odili.
Sir Victor, who was born in 1935 and raised in Onitsha, attended Christ the King College (CKC) in Onitsha as a child and is the elder brother of the former governor of River State, Peter Odili.
The reason for their meeting was simple.
There is a new telecom company that just arrived in town.
Their name is MTN Nigeria; they just won a telcom license from the Nigerian government valued at $285 million, and the company are desperately looking for investors to raise the money.
Paschal Dozie has been hired by this new company to headhunt for Nigerian investors who want to take a bet on what is now the biggest telecom company in Nigeria
At the time, the dollar was worth less than 22 naira to the dollar.
Sir Victor wanted to pass up the opportunity, and his reasons were not far-fetched.
Nigeria was just coming out of long military rule, and investing in a frontier company is risky because the licence might be cancelled.
Just before that time, the new president Obasanjo cancelled the GSM licence awarded to over 49 companies by the late President Abacha for lack of transparency, so his fears were valid.
But Paschal was relentless; he kept pressing his friend, trying to convince him why he should invest in the new company because telecom is the new frontier, the new oil well, at that.
Sir Victor Odili eventually put money into MTN and was one of the pioneer board members when MTN Ngeria was still a private company.
That decision to invest was a stroke of genius that has changed the fortune of Sr. Victor Odili forever.
Sir Victor is today the biggest indigenous Nigerian shareholder of MTN shares in MTN Nigeria and he controls 3% stake of the company.
The value of that 3% stake is worth 350 billion naira at today’s exchange rate, placing him among the top 10 richest investors on the Nigerian Exchange.
Sir Voctor Odili has gotten back everything he put into MTN Nigeria in 1999 thanks to the huge dividends the company gives him every year.
For proper context:
He received a $15.7 million dividend from MTN Nigeria just last year for investing in them and placing a bet on the business when many others did not.
The money paid to Sir Victor is over 11 billion naira when you convert it to naira, and that, for me, is a strategic investment that will continue to pay him and his family when he is no longer alive.
In 2021, he was paid $11.5 million by MTN as a 2021 dividend from the company.
The businessman is also on track to get another huge dividend in 2023 after MTN Nigeria declared 1.6 trillion in revenue.
In my many conversations with my friends around me, I belong to the school of thought that believes that Nigerian billionaires are not occultic, and when you study their lives:
It is the same pattern that makes them rich, which includes the power to invest and take a bet when nobody else believe or paying attention.
The ability to see the future from today, which people around them cannot see.
The ability to identify an opportunity and then grab them with both hands.
Being bold and taking a risk that pays off in the end.
And most importantly, the gift of seeing the big picture
This, for me, is what sets them apart from the ordinary folks that are struggling to provide food at the table, and then the circle you keep matters a lot.
Think for a moment: if Paschal Dozie and Victor Odili were not friends, this mind-blowing opportunity would have passed him by.
For many people, the reason why they may never be successful in life is because of the kind of friends they keep.
I’m sure that when Sir Victor is alone, he will always be thankful to Paschal for getting him to invest in MTN Nigeria in 1999
Aside from his 3% stake of MTN Nigeria, he is also the chairman and executive director of Aeromaritime Group. Aeromaritime Group is the parent company of more than eight companies that work in different areas of Nigeria, such as shipping, oil, and gas. He entered private business after years of working as an executive for companies.
Aeromaritime Group is a major player in the shipping and oil and gas industries. It owns more than 500 container ships, 1.4 million containers, and a privately owned terminal to provide reliable global maritime services to both importers and exporters.