(NNPA) — Talk show maven, Oprah Winfrey, who long reigned supreme as the world’s richest Black woman, has been kicked down a notch by new kid on the block, Folorunsho Alakija, according to Ventures Africa, an African business magazine and news service.
The newest top-ranking Black female billionaire hails from Nigeria. Alakija is a clothing designer and oil tycoon who is worth somewhere in the $3.3 billion range and beats Oprah’s piggy bank savings by $500 million. At last count, Oprah’s media dynasty hovered in the neighborhood of about $2.7 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
As the founder and owner of Famfa Oil, one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks, Aliakija, who was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, began her career as a secretary for a now-defunct investment bank in Nigeria. The mid-‘80s brought about a career turn-around for Alakija, who began delving in to clothing design, after having studied it in England. Alajika’s entrepreneurial spirit led her to start her own clothing line, Supreme Stitches, which catered to a wealthy clientele.
Even though Alajika had established a successful clothing business, she actually earned her windfall in oil.
In 1993, Nigerian President Ibrahim Babangida awarded her company, Famfa Oil, an oil prospecting license, which went on to become OML 127, one of Nigeria’s most prolific oil blocks. The block is located approximately 220 miles South East of Lagos and 70 miles offshore Nigeria in the central Niger Delta.
At the time, many wealthy Nigerians had been allocated oil blocks and most of them flipped them off to international oil companies for profits—except for Alajika. Even though she did not have any expertise in running an oil field, she still opted not to sell her license.
The 61-year-old wife of Modupe Alakija and mother of four sons who helped run Famfa, ran into an obstacle with the Nigerian government under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, which unconstitutionally acquired a 50% interest in her oil block without duly compensating Alakija or her company. Famfa Oil went to court to challenge the acquisition, and in May this year, the Nigerian Supreme Court reinstated the 60% stake to Famfa Oil.
If anyone still doubts Alajika’s net worth as compared to Oprah’s, the editors at Ventures Africa also state that Alajika, who owns more than $100 million in real estate, owns a Bombardier Global Express 6000 private jet that she purchased this year for $46 million.
“We have no idea on how much debt (if any, the company [Famfa Oil] has), but even if we take the high side, and subtract 50% of the value of her stake for debt, that still gives her 60% stake in OML 127 a market value of $3.2 billion, which makes her (Alajika) richer than the $2.7 billion Oprah Winfrey is worth, according to Forbes magazine’s last rankings.”
Alajika spends her time and wealth taking care of widows and orphans and giving them hope.