Billionaire businesswoman, Hajia Bola Shagaya, may look frivolous to some people. But certainly not those who know her intimately. A very, very serious-minded, focused and hardworking woman, in spite of loving high profile parties and fashion, the mother of five also knows when to halt all of that. YES INTERNATIONAL! gathered that as a rule, she doesn’t allow friends – no matter how close – to visit her from Monday to Friday. She also doesn’t go visiting anybody on those days. Except on weekends!
Again, no matter where she is or what she’s doing, the staunch Muslim who goes to Mecca at least twice in a year creates time to observe her Majrib. “That’s my only way to praise God”, she once said in an interview. Hopelessly in love with exotic jewellery, especially diamonds, and looking good, nearly all our top designers – from Deola Sagoe to Folake Coker, Maureen Onigbanjo to Abba Folawiyo – make clothes for her. Internationally, there are also Escada and Christian Lacroix. With houses in London, Abuja, Lagos, Ilorin and so on (both residential and rental), she goes to bed everyday by 9pm (and immediately she finishes listening to the 8 O’clock news) and wakes up daily by 5am to pray. Starting out almost two decades ago, her unwavering determination and rolling with the right crowd are believed to have gotten her where she is today. “Yes, the woman has made so much money from oil (Practoil) and photography (Fotofair and Co), but the bulk of what she is enjoying today is government patronage. Don’t forget that she’s a good networker. Right from the days of IBB, she’s been close to the corridors of power. She was close to the late Mrs. Maryam Babangida, Hajia Titi Abubakar, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo and even Dame Patience Jonathan, who is like her closest friend now”. But besides those in power, Hajia Bola Shagaya, now one of the kingmakers in Kwara PDP, plunged into business in 1985, barely one year after her return from the United States of America, and has been rolling in serious money ever since. Before then, she was working in the Internal Audit Department of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Fiercely focused fanatically independent, with her eyes constantly on the ball, a lacuna she took care of in the photography sector in 1985 ushered her into the league of millionaires. With a profit of over £5000 then, there was no more stopping her. Currently employing over 500 people in her companies, she built her first house in Ilorin in 1986. But today, she has over a dozen other houses in the highbrow areas of Abuja and Lagos which are being managed by HSB Properties. Unsuccessful at marriage, different tales have continued to trail the father of her children and their liaison. But she’s remained undaunted, and instead choosing to concentrate on her businesses and the five fruits of the union who give her so much joy and happiness.
Summing her up, one of her friends told us two things that stand her out: Her fantastic business acumen and outstanding networking skills. “She’s good in business, she’s also good in networking. And it is the combination of the two that has made her the huge success she’s become today”. The latest talk in town is that she has allegedly dumped her friend, Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan, the out-going First Lady for the new one, Mrs. Aisha Buhari – which many are not happy about.
NB: First published April 2015