Nigeria is a blessed country filled with blessed people. The country’s governing structure includes the President (at the helm of affairs nationally), the State Governors (who lead at the state level), and the local government chairmen (who lead at the local government level). The structure also consists of traditional leaders who work in synergy with local and state government authorities to ensure the peace and safety of the local communities.
Traditional rulers are indispensable to the culture of Nigeria. Their designations are relative, and are determined by the culture of the communities they lead, the traditions surrounding headship in those communities, and a few other factors. The traditional rulers are also referred to as Monarchs or Kings, and so, even though the word ‘King’ or ‘Monarch’ is seldom used in describing or reporting about a traditional leader, it still refers to it. For example; the traditional ruler of the Sokoto Caliphate in Northern Nigeria is known as the Sultan of Sokoto. Conversely, the traditional leader of the Ife Empire in Osun state is regarded as the Ooni of Ife, while the traditional ruler of Kano is referred to as the Emir of Kano. These three different designations in the cases described above are only traditional expressions of one title: King, or Monarch.
In some communities and states, particularly in Yoruba land and some parts of the south-south, the traditional rulers are referred to as ‘Obas’. For instance, the traditional ruler of Lagos state is referred to as the Oba of Lagos, while the same leader for Benin in Edo State is referred to as the Oba of Benin.
So, whether they are called ‘Obas’, or ‘Emirs’ or ‘Sultans’, they all refer to the traditional Kings or Monarchs of their respective communities or states.
Because they are leaders in and of themselves, they are well-remunerated. In fact, the average monarch in Nigeria is wealthy. However, beyond the remunerations, many monarchs in Nigeria are business-inclined. Some of them runs chains of businesses, most times, employing youths of their communities to keep them off the streets and productively-engaged.
Presently, Nigerian kings rank among the richest monarchs in Africa. In fact, two Nigerian Kings are in the list of the top five richest African monarchs. This post seeks to discover which of the Nigerian monarchs is the wealthiest in the country. There have been a few opinions in times past, suggesting a few names; but we can categorically state that one of them stands out due to his massive wealth and business investments.
His name is Oba Obateru Akinruntan, and he is the richest King in Nigeria.
But who is this Oba Obateru Akintuntan, and how come he is the richest king in Nigeria?
Who He Is
Oba Frederick Obateru Akinruntan is a Nigerian traditional ruler. He is the present King of Ugbo Kingdom (traditionally referred to as the Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom). Ugbo Kingdom is a town in Ilaje, Ilaje local government, in Ondo state, western Nigeria.
Oba Akinruntan was born in Ugbo, Ilaje in the year 1950 to the royal family of Sir Frederick Adetolugbo. When he was 32 years old, there was a prophecy that he would one day become the Monarch of the Ugbo Kingdom; and truly, after some disputes, lawsuits and traditional rites, he was eventually appointed as the Olugbo of Ugbo kingdom in the year 2009. He has been ruling the land of Ugbo since then till this present time.
Oba Akinruntan is a business tycoon. He deals mainly in Oil and Gas, and is the founder and owner of Obat Oil. In 1981, he started Obat Oil in his native Ondo state. His community, Ugbo, happened to be rich in crude oil deposit, so he took off from there on a small scale. However, presently, Obat Oil ranks as one of the largest private oil companies in the whole of Africa. According to reports, Obat Oil has one of the largest storage capacities for crude oil in Africa. It is said that the storage facility can conveniently store up to sixty-five million liters of petroleum products.
What started as a small petroleum company named Obat Oil (Obat, after his name Obateru) in Okitipupa, Ondo state, now has over fifty fully-functional gas stations scattered across Nigeria.
Soon after he ascended the throne as the Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom, he appointed his son, Prince Akinfemiwa Akinruntan to oversee the affairs of the company. However, in the year 2013, a certain Barrister Ukadike Iyke filed a suit against the young prince, accusing him of corruption and demanding his immediate arrest. Following the lawsuit, the Federal High Court in Abuja sanctioned his arrest. However, what was done about the matter remains unknown till this moment.
Oba Akinruntan Obateru is the richest king in Nigeria and the second richest in Africa. As at 2014, his wealth had surpassed the likes of the erstwhile Ooni of Ife, late Oba Onibuse II; the Sultan of Sokoto; the King of Swaziland, Mswati III, and many others in Nigeria and Africa. Only the King of Morocco, King Mohammed VI, is richer than him amongst all African monarchs.
Much of Oba Akinruntan’s wealth comes from his oil and gas business at Obat Oil. However, he is also a known real estate investor, both at home and abroad. He is known to own choice properties in Europe. He reportedly owns Febson Hotels and Mall in Abuja, Nigeria, as well as many other assets.
Asides his oil and gas business dealings, Oba Akinruntan also deals in Tourism, Construction, Shipping, and Consultancy.
Style and Class
Oba Akinruntan is a man of style. He has a sophisticated collection of luxury cars that he takes out to events and functions. He is the first black man to purchase the 2014 model of Bentley car. Part of his car collection includes a 2012 Rolls Royce that was specifically designed for the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth. He also has a wrist-watch that costs in excess of $1 million!
The monarch sure has an expensive taste.
His palace in Ugbo, Ondo state is a wonder to behold. Several millions of dollars were literally splashed to make the palace as beautiful as humanly possible. The edifice is decorated with expensive precious stones and lavish furniture and fittings.
He also has a few yachts in the country. This is due to his love for travelling on water. Ugbo kingdom, where he was born, is a riverine community in Ilaje, Ondo state. Because of this, everyone in the community travelled on water, and he grew up being used to travelling on water. However, presently, industrialization has brought good roads and a bit of civilization to the Ugbo community.
One would argue that, perhaps, with so much money at one’s disposal, it is nearly impossible to be free from scandals. In 2013, Oba Obateru’s son, Prince Akinfemiwa Akinruntan was implicated in a corruption saga and his arrest was sanctioned by a Federal High Court in Abuja. However, in February 2016, it was Oba Akinfemiwa Akinruntan Obateru himself that got implicated in a corruption case. Agents of Nigeria’s number one anti-corruption and money laundering agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), interrogated him with regards to his involvement in a suspected case of money laundering.
His oil company, Obat Oil has been mentioned in several fuel subsidy scams in the past decade. However, he has never been prosecuted for any corruption-related offence.
Oba Akinruntan Obateru runs a foundation called Oba Akinruntan Obateru Foundation. this foundation caters for the needs of the less-privileged in the society. He regularly organizes free medical outreaches to communities, via the foundation.
According to a forbes’ publication in 2014, Oba Akinruntan Obateru is worth in excess of $300 million. That translates to over N108 billion naira! So much money for a single individual!
There you have it, the richest King in Nigeria, according to forbes. He surpassed the following monarchs to become Nigeria’s wealthiest monarch.
Oba Samuel Odulana, the Olubadan of Ibadan.
The Olubadan of Ibadan is the King of Ibadan land in Oyo state, Southwestern Nigeria. He is equally wealthy and influential, but is nowhere close to that of Oba Akinruntan Obateru.
Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, the Ooni of Ife.
This monarch is arguably the most contemporary of all the monarchs in Nigeria. he is also very wealthy, as he ranks as the second richest King in Nigeria, behind Oba Obateru Akinruntan.
Oba Rilwan Babatunde Osuolale Aremu Akiolu, the Oba of Lagos.
He is one of the most influential traditional leaders in yorubaland. He is often consulted before state-wide political and economic decisions are taken and implemented by the government.
His Royal Highness, Mallam Sanusi Muhammed Sanusi, the Emir of Kano.
Mallam Sanusi Muhammed Sanusi is a one-time Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. He was appointed as the Emir of Kano in the year 2014, following the demise of the then Emir, Alhaji Dr. Ado Abdullahi Bayero. Mallam Sanusi Muhammed is one of the most educated monarch’s in Nigeria, with degrees from top universities outside the country. He is also very wealthy and influential, but is not nearly as wealthy as Oba Obateru Akinruntan. He is highly respected in the northern part of Nigeria.
Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I, the Oba of Benin.
Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I is the immediate past Oba of Benin Kingdom. During his lifetime, he was known to be very wealthy and influential. In fact, he ranked amongst the top five richest monarchs in Nigeria.
Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III, the Alaafin of Oyo.
Oba Lamidi ranks amongst the top three most influential traditional leaders in Yorubaland. He is highly influential in Oyo state and in the entire yorubaland and is also known to be very wealthy. However, the magnitude of his wealth and assets cannot be compared with the wealth of Oba Obateru Akinruntan.
His Royal Highness, Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV, the Sultan of Sokoto.
Along with HRH, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano, HRH Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar IV is one of the most influential monarchs in northern Nigeria. He is heavily involved in decisions-making processes in the northern region, and is also very wealthy. However, he is nowhere near as wealthy as Oba Akinruntan.
Benjamin Ikenchuku Keagborekuzi, the Dein of Agbor.
This monarch holds the Guiness world record for the youngest king in history, becoming the king of Agbor at the tender age of two and a half years. Agbor is a city in Delta state with rich history and ties with the Benin people of Delta state. The Dein of Agbor is one of the wealthiest rulers in the South, but he still does not match up to the Olugbo of Ugbo Kingdom, Oba Akintuntan.
Igwe Nnayelugo Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha.
Perhaps the most popular traditional leader in the east, the Obi of Onitsha is one of the most respected traditional leaders in Nigeria. He is also a wealthy businessman and an educated man.
Godwin Toju Emiko, the Olu of Warri.
The Olu of Warri is an educated Barrister. He currentlyl serves as the traditional leader of Warri, a city located in Delta state, South-south Nigeria. He owns a chain of companies and businesses, which makes him a rich monarch. However, his net worth is no match for Oba Obateru’s wealth.