MIKE ADENUGA'S JEWEL
Saturday, March 13, 2010 With the wedding bells tolling for her, billionaire Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr's pretty daughter, Bella, has told the inspiring story of how she single-handedly fought the battle of the bulge to become the trim damsel who is getting set to go to the altar soon.
It is a story that should motivate every fat, weighty woman or orobo girl dreaming of trimming down into fitness, good health and walking down the red carpet of fashion. It requires sustained effort and focus. You can still enjoy some things, hobbies that aren't caloric, like bingo (http://www.foxybingo.com/) and shopping-- but you must forgo many of your favourite snacks and treats. Then you must combine this with a regular exercise regime in order to strengthen and tone the body.
In his father's long-awaited biography (written by the duo of Mike Awoyinfa and Dimgba Igwe), which should be out sometime this year, Bella says she was inspired by her father's work ethic, discipline and strong will power to fight and defeat obesity, a gene common in the Adenuga family.
'My dad has always been driven and hardworking,' she says. 'He is one man who believes that nothing is impossible. He says: If you put your mind hard enough to something and you work hard enough, you are going to achieve it. And that is the truth. I even applied that to my life.
'I used to be obese. I used to be about 120 kg and that is about 240 pounds. One day, I just woke and told myself: 'No, I have to shed weight.' I was still at the university. And my friends said: 'Oh, you can't do it.' And I remembered my father's saying: 'If you work hard enough towards something, you are going to achieve it.'
'I told myself: 'I am not going to accept the fact of being fat and continuing to be fat till I die. I said, with discipline, I can lose weight and I must lose weight. I put my mind to it and I achieved it.'
How did she achieve it? 'I first cut out all sugar and all soft drinks. Before, I was addicted to Ginger Ale. Ginger Ale was my staple drink. I could drink seven bottles in a day. And by cutting off that, I initially lost weight, because I used to take so much sugar. And after, I started cleaning up on my portions.'
In Boston, where she attended university, there are lots of rivers and sidewalks across the rivers. She took advantage of that to embark on long trekking, with a view to shedding her excess luggage.
'I don't like strenuous exercise, so I never used to run, but I could walk about five miles a day which was about two hours. And sometimes, I did it twice a day before my class in the morning or after my class in the evening.'
With persistence, she stuck to that exercise regime and miraculously she transfigured. Such was the extent of dramatic transformation that Mike Adenuga thought he was dreaming when he set eyes on her beloved daughter during a visit to her school in Boston, Massachusetts.
'When my dad finally saw me, he couldn't believe it. Dad used to call me Ben-be. The Ben-be nickname came because I was chubby. It comes from the Yoruba saying, Ben-be ti be, meaning 'Ben-be has burst.' Because I was so chubby, dad would say, Ben-be ti be. The Adenugas are big. It is in the genes. It hit me as well and I had to curb it.
'My dad, as well, is big, but he is strict. He exercises every day. He is an exercise freak. He is always in the gym. By 1 a.m., he goes to the gym. He loves playing squash, but he had an accident while playing squash and this has kept him from squash. He doesn't play squash anymore, but he exercises like mad.
'There is the tendency to be big in my family. You have to make a conscious effort to avoid it. You have to watch what you eat and exercise. From my dad, I have learnt that with hard work and determination, anything is possible.
'On seeing my new figure, he said to me: 'I have to give you credit. You have been so disciplined. It is not easy. For the fact that you put your mind to it, you accomplished it. You deserve a lot of credit.' I have applied this to almost every other aspect of my life.'
Bella Adenuga is one young lady saddled with the heavy responsibility of doing what girls of her age would not be found doing: managing a company from the top as Executive Director in Globacom, her father's giant telecoms company, with the big ambition to take over Africa—and to 'rule your world.'
Sitting behind her desk and almost swamped in her big office where she is fully involved in management and decision-making, Bella started from the shop floor as a student intern, working in the lower level finance and communication departments. She wasn't a director then. With that experience, she was able to know what goes on down below the organisation.
After graduation, dad did not give her baby steps. He simply threw her instead straight into the heat of the action—wanting one report or another, asking her to face the press alone without any support, and making her to attend marathon meetings after meeting. The dreariest of the meetings was the Sunday meetings involving 'roll out soldiers' at the commencement of Globacom. The roll out meetings usually started from 9 a.m. on Sunday and could roll into 11 p.m. or sometimes 1 a.m. And Adenuga would not excuse her daughter for any reason. It was part of the discipline the father wanted to instil in her daughter and prepare her for the future.
'We had that meeting for about a year,' says Bella, as she recalls the early years of Globacom and her father's commitment to see it work. 'This was where my dad really had to put his eye in rolling out the network in the various parts of the country —Kano, Warri and so on. At the meeting, he would ask questions like: How many towers are in this area? We knew that every Sunday, we were going to be there for such long hours, but we learnt a lot from dad's leadership and management style. My dad didn't say: 'Oh, she is a girl, let's start her slowly.' I jumped right into the mix. When you are rolling out a network, it is so intense. You have to cover different areas and there are always issues to trash out. It was a meeting of all the people who had gone to the regions to come and give their updates and to say things like: 'There are eight towers now in this part of Kano; there are 15 towers; we need poles; we need masts.' My dad could say: 'Let's add a tower here; we don't need a tower there.''
Bella recalls that when she started working at Globacom, she had three things working against her. 'Number one is the fact that I am a girl. Two, I am young. Three, I have a rich father and I work for him. Some people would look at me and perceive me as a figurehead who doesn't do anything —just a case of a spoilt daughter of a rich man who comes to work any time she likes and things like that. For me, being young means that I have to prove myself to people. Even when I go to parties, I have to comport myself.'
It is the frankest and fullest interview Bella has ever given on her life as Mike Adenuga's daughter. And you would have to wait for the Mike Adenuga book to read it in full. Throughout the interview, she proved herself as a smart, intelligent young woman who is a chip off the old block. It takes a genius to enter university at age 14, but Bella is the last to accept that tag of a genius, believing that it's hard work and a father's push that had taken her to where she is today.
Of course, the issues of her love life and marriage were raised in the interview. And she did not shy away from addressing them, saying: 'It's a natural course in life that if you are a girl, you must have an affair and get married someday. Getting married is inevitable. So, there is nothing much my dad says about that, because it is inevitable. One day, he is going to give me out to marry.'
On what she thinks the future holds for her, she says: 'Like every girl, the dream is to get married and have your own family, have kids and build a good home while being able to maintain a good career and continue to build on the dream that my dad has already developed.'
Here is wishing Bella a happy married life. In this business of writing, once you have interviewed anybody, he or she becomes your friend for life. This is the beauty of journalism. And this is the little bonus that comes with being a biographer —the bonus of getting an exclusive story on your subject or the daughter of your subject.