How A Former Uneducated Nigerian Village Boy Built A Multi-Million Dollar Oil Conglomerate
Going from grass to grace or rags to riches is no easy feat. Yet it is not impossible. Millions of people have done this all over the world, and millions more will do it.
When you’re determined to turn things around and do everything that would put you in the best chance to succeed, you eventually will.
This is the success story of Mohammad Indimi, a person who was previously living in a village and had no access to formal education but eventually created a life worthy of emulation and in the process, founded Oriental Energy Resources Limited, along with being on the board of various multi-million dollar companies.
Here is how he did it.
The Early Life And Education Of Mohammed Indimi
Alhaji (Dr) Mohammed Indimi was born on August 12, 1947, to Alhaji Kurundu in the Northern part of Nigeria. He grew up in Maiduguri, Borno State with his parents. His father, Alhaji Mamman Kurundu was a hides and skins trader who sort animal skins from villages around Maiduguri.
Mohammed Indimi had no formal education because his parents lacked the wherewithal to sponsor him in school. So he joined his father in the trading of hides and skin until he eventually set out to start his own business.
Journey To Entrepreneurship
Mohammed Indimi started his venture into the world of entrepreneurship at a young age of sixteen. His father who was advanced in age then took a loan of 100 pounds for him to use to startup due to the experience he had already gathered.
Mohammed Indimi as at the time saw a need in his community and rose up to meet it. Then, there were no imported products in his village, especially clothing materials, with a bulk of the youths looking for shirts, jeans and other types of clothing to get.
Seeing this gap as an opportunity, he decided to profer a solution and began his business by crossing the border to Chad and Cameron to get items needed locally for purchase by his target market. On getting them, he would return to Nigeria to sell the products, and over time, built a successful business in this.
A Second Opportunity
In 1973, Mohammed Indimi noticed a shortage of flour in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State. The state government in its quest to solve this problem was importing bags of flour and selling at a reduced rate to the locals.
Unlike Maiduguri, Sokoto state had excess flour to sell. And seeing this disparity as an opportunity, Mohammed Indimi contacted the Chief Commercial Officer of the Ministry of Commerce for Sokoto state who was in charge of the sale, he bargained and bought 50,000 bags of flour. He then transported the bags of flour to Maiduguri where he sold and made good profits from the transaction. Growing his networth in the process.
He was only twenty-six years old when he took this contract.
By the time Mohammed Indimi was 32 years old, his personal brand had become one to be trusted which was what set him on the path of his next venture.
During the former president Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure in the military regime, there was a project to be commissioned. This project was the South Chad Irrigation Project, a pumping station built with canals from Lake Chad. The project, however, began to face challenges about three months to the time of its commissioning, which gave rise to the need for industrial water pumps.
The place of goodwill and great relationships was also at play in this situation. His friend Bunu Sherrif Musa, an engineer who was the project manager of the Lake Chad Basin Authority came with the address and phone number of a company in the US and said, “I know you can do it for us. Can you get us pumps to fill all these canals? Obasanjo is coming in three months to commission it.’’ Indimi took this project seriously, travelled to the USA to ensure the purchase of these pumps for the project. As a result of this, the project was completed in due time.
Based on this successful dealing, competitors began to rise to step into the business. But Mohammed Indimi, being the smart avid entrepreneur that he was, went a step ahead of the competition by monopolising the business.
He did this by setting up an agency so that no one could sell water pumps except him. In six years, he built the first pump factory in Maiduguri. The factory got so successful that he started making great revenues.
The Start Of Oriental Energy Resources
While still in the water pumping business, Mohammed Indimi expanded his business portfolio into the oil and gas industry. He established an offshore oil exploration and production company named Oriental Energy Resources in 1990.
In September of that year, Mohammed Indimi was awarded an oil prospecting license by the then Nigerian president; General Ibrahim Babangida. This license was for his oil company to acquire a minimum of up to 1,000 km of seismic data and to drill at least three exploratory wells.
Oriental Energy Today
Today, Oriental Energy has expanded its portfolio and currently has three assets under development in offshore Nigeria. These include Ebok Field (OML 67), Okwok Field (OML 67) and OML 115.
The Ebok Field (Ebok) was awarded to Oriental Resources in May 2007 by the ExxonMobil / Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) Joint Venture. Ebok is located in southern OML 67. The Okwok field is an undeveloped oil field located in southern OML 67, 50 km offshore in 130 feet of water and 15 km East of the Oriental-operated Ebok development.
The field was discovered by the ExxonMobil/NNPC JV in 1967 (Okwok-1). The OML 115 is in the southeastern corner of the prolific offshore eastern Niger Delta surrounding the Oriental-operated Ebok and Okwok marginal fields. Seven exploration wells have been drilled in the block between 1968 and 2014.
According to the company’s website, Oriental Energy is currently producing an average of 19,000 barrels of crude oil per day from 27 producer’s well.
From inception till date, the company has produced over 60 MMbbls.
Mohammed Indimi’s Impact On Society
Mohammed Indimi launched the Muhammadu Indimi Foundation (MIF) to lift individuals and families in Northern Nigeria out of hunger, illiteracy and poverty. In 2016, his foundation sponsored some northern students, mostly Borno indigenes, to study at the International African University of Sudan.
MIF has greatly empowered and supported people affected by the Boko Haram crisis in the North East. They built a 100-unit N600 million housing estate, provided food, clothing, schools and clinics for the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) by the Boko Haram Insurgency in Borno State.
Apart from his humanitarian gestures in the Northern state, Indimi donated a multi-million-dollar International Business Centre to Lynn University in the USA, which was named after him.
Through his company and foundation, he built a 100 unit N700 million modern residential estate in Enwang, awarded over 470 scholarships in Akwa Ibom State and created a sponsorship program for University of Uyo’s Department of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering.
Awards And Recognitions
- Officer of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. 2012
- Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Lynn University, Florida 2013
- Honorary Doctorate in Business Adm. from University of Uyo 2017
- Vanguard Businessman of the Year 2017
- Honorary Doctorate in Mgt Science from Nigeria Defense Academy. 2018
To Sum It Up
The story of Mohammed Indimi reflects the life of a man who came up from nothing, took advantage of opportunities, and in the process has built a thriving conglomerate. He rose through the limitations of poverty, illiteracy and lack, and di something many others can only dare to dream of.
If he could achieve all he has, you too can, and it starts with the passion to change your life for the better.