Meet Nigeria’s Queens Of Bling Bling + Billions They Lavished On Diamond18 min read
The myths and facts associated with diamond transcend cultures and continents. An act of Louis 1X of France established a sumptuary law reserving diamonds for the king indicating its rarity and value. In today’s world, it still hasn’t changed as it is the exclusive preserve of the super-rich.
In Nigeria a lot of women have one diamond studded jewellery or the other; some even collect quite a substantial lot but a handful of these women collect on a scale that commands respect among top jewellers in the world. It is one thing to wear French lace no matter how exotic. Another thing is to adorn top grade gemstones encrusted on precious metals on a frequency that is very alarming.
Every Tom, Dick and Harry can easily access Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Muccia Prada, or even Zagliani, whether couture or vintage, but to collect diamonds on a scale unprecedented is strictly for those with limitless cash reserves. One won’t talk about diamonds without talking gold and platinum which is even 60 times rarer than gold for it is on these precious metals that diamonds and other exotic gemstones are set.
In Nigeria we have the girls and we have the WOMEN. These few women sit on stupendous multi-billion bank accounts that are used to fund this level of super high octane extravagance. We serve you the uncensored true story of the exclusive members of the virtually-impossible-to-access diamond club where your multi-billion bank account is strictly the prerequisite for admission. Like you will never get anywhere else we also acquaint you with how they came about the billions to fund this lifestyle. Enjoy.
Who better to start this list than the super aristocratic Erelu Ojuolape Ojora, the petite stunning wife of multi-billionaire boardroom guru Otunba Adekunle Ojora. In the league of connoisseurs, this urbane grandmother stands out because she has been aristocratic all the way. Born into a privileged background, she aided her husband to his present financial status and for this he loves her to high heavens and obliges her luxury she wants. She wears the very best of De Beers diamonds and has in her stock all the leading names on a scale that would even make a nun turn green with envy. Harry Winston, Van Cleef and Arpels, Graff, Bvlgari, Chopard… just keep naming.
Apart from the fact that she’s known to have as much footwear than legendary Imelda Marcos, former Philippines first lady, she has as friends the most known filthily rich society matriarchs’. Erelu Ojora has an unalloyed passion for Mappin and Webb, one of the most prestigious English jewellers. Mappin and Webb is the official jeweller to the Queen of England and most top echelon of the House of Windsor (UK’s royal family).
That is no surprise as the Ojoras are known to be personal friends of the British monarch; add that to their multimillion pound estate in the Bishop’s Avenue, the most expensive street in Europe, then she’s the confirmed matriarch of the bling-bling league. So prominent is Erelu Ojora amongst most Italian top jewellers that this arbiter of the finest gemstones gets invited to private viewings of the super iconic jewellers which periodically take place in Milan, Rome, Venice, Florence or any of their lavish resorts. Party after party, mama steps out in the most internally flawless (IF) of diamonds which the most formidable cut, colour, clarity, carat ( the 4C’s used to evaluate and grade diamonds as prescribed by the GIA), her opinion on diamonds is not only ultra sound but incontestable.
Who would forget what she adorned on her neck when her first son, late Gbegi Ojora eventually got married many years ago? She stepped out in a record-breaking coral necklace that even with the proliferation of corals today is still unmatched. About 20 layers of the finest Italian corals stranded and held together by troy ounces of the most exotic precious metal carved out in the most dramatic fashion, finished with multi embellishments of the most brilliant pave set diamonds was ever seen in this part of the world, that left all guest totally dumbfounded. We can tell you with all authority that these insanely expensive blings cost hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling and perhaps even millions of dollars in some cases.
We anticipated her so much because she would have made the most fashionable olori ever known! We arrive at the lavishly furnished closet of Senator Florence Ita Giwa, a. k. a. Mama Bakassi. Without any iota of doubt, she’s not only a prestigious member of this exclusive club but she did cause a lot of commotion with her arrival.
While some top society ladies argue that Ita Giwa was very recently inducted into this club as she was never this loaded 20 or 30 years ago, they claim her fortunes in recent politics saw her taking the crown but mama’s friends are seriously contesting that Ita Giwa had been buying up exotic Piaget watches as far back as when she was strutting her Manolo Blanik heels with Sisi Abba Folawiyo. Whatever the position, reputable gemologists maintain that Ita Giwa wears the most dramatic diamonds in this country. Her designs are very intricate and the lustre, brilliance and fire in those gemstones can restore the sight of the blind.
She once attended a function in Transcorp Hilton Abuja wearing the most polished Madeira Citrine diamond to be seen on any society lady and for this a group of Hausa ladies sitting beside her completely lost focus of the main event and kept staring at that spectacular piece till Mama Bakassi left the hall. She has it all: Agate, Alenxandrite,Ruby, Sapphire Fancy, Rose de France Amethyst, Mandarin Citrine, Fire Beryl, Garnet, Jasper, Heliodor, Fluorite, Kunzite and Mikimoto Pearls, Pave Set, Prong Set, Bazel Set, Chanel Set, VVS1, VVS2, VS1, SI1 to SI3, IF, even the final bus-stop in bling acquisition FL ( Flawless). At the last ThisDay Awards where she was honoured alongside other top female icons this jewellery aficionado knew it was an opportunity to stamp her validity on every one. Pitched against the likes of filthily rich Bola Shagaya and Diezani Allison Madueke who’s known to have single-handedly brought in top jeweller Chris Aire into the country, she knew she has to tell them who the queen of bling is, for having money isn’t having swag.
She stepped out in a $30,000 Elie Saab’s (Lebanese designer who is now the favourite for Hollywood stars) couture creation and accentuated that legendary dress with the most flawless diamonds handcrafted by her favourite jeweller. She clearly won the style war that night by a clear mile. The wife of former British prime minister Cherie Blair gushed, “Even in Hollywood, this is show-stopping.”
A versatile shopper, she patronizes top European jewellers and shares jeweller with the late Princess Diana of Wales, but Ita Giwa’s love for Lebanese jewellers is worthy of note. Reason is because Lebanese jewellers have access to the most fascinating gemstones across the globe with a vast craftsmanship that is giving the Italian jewellers a run for their money. Finally in Lebanon you get value for your money unlike when you buy in places like 47th street New York or UK’s Hatton Garden where you pay outrageous taxes on those diamonds. In Beirut (capital of Lebanon) you sit and discuss the details of what gemstone and the shape you would like it to have. When she left Yar’Adua’s government she did seriously contemplate moving to Beirut where she now has super rich friends. Just before we forget, Senator Ita Giwa also has an oil well. She spends as much as between $160,000 on just a lavishly encrusted earrings to over $1m on a set of flawless diamonds. oouch!
This next stunning sexy lady’s style tickles our fancy because she’s one of the biggest spenders in this league. Welcome to the Kokichi Mikimoto built closet of this super rich senator. Senator Daisy Danjuma is without doubt a spender on a legendary formation. She made this list solely based on her marriage to the multi-billionaire general, Theophilus Danjuma.
If she was still to be with her former husband Mr. Omenai she would be nowhere on this list; the general loves her with all his heart and spoils her silly with anything money can buy. We have always known Daisy to be a chronic diamond addict but she came to full public glare many years ago when she was a victim of a heist (diamond robbery). During this time she had lost a lot of her valuable and treasured diamond possessions running into billions of naira to a well-executed gang who stormed her home and made into her safe. In retaliation, Daisy locked up her domestic staff claiming it’s an insider job, but unknown to the gorgeous senator her house girls had been following her social profile as a tabloid fixture, so while in prison they smuggled out a letter of SOS to the tabloid press, but the content was more alarming, she claimed that the lovable senator had taken her to many spiritualist and native doctors up-north all in a bid to have her confess to the act that her life was seriously threatened as she might die in custody.
It got messier, if the main criteria for making it into the senate were your strides in the diamond industry then Senator Danjuma will not only be on her 4th tenure but will be the unimpeachable senate president. For her collection of De Beers diamonds is record breaking. As a collector she doesn’t wear most of her acquisitions, Tiffany, Piaget, Buccellati, Harry Winston, Allison Kaufman, Bulgari, its endless. Chrysoprase, Citrine, Fire Beryl, Jasper, Turquoise, Sunstone, Emerald, Teklite, Tigers Eye, Tanzanite, Zircon, Moldavite, Topaz, Opal, madam has it all in abundance but it’s in her Mikimoto acquisition that she stands out.
For the benefit of those who don’t know, Kokichi Mikimoto is the legendary Japanese jeweller who started the cultivation of fresh water pearls and single-handedly convinced the world to fall in love with cultivated pearls. Alover of pearls, Daisy buys the most exotic pearl bling ever. Mikimoto pearls sell for thousands of forex and even millions of dollars depending on its grade. She loves dainty pieces and less complicated look. Hardly would you spot Daisy with intricately woven set like the Ita Giwa’s but she makes up for it in the quality of the gemstones. D, E, F G, H, I, and J, K, L are her favourite colour grades. While her FL, IF, VVS1, VVS2 is unquestionable, these are the top end of the ladder. Each of those simple pieces you see on her could out-price a building on posh Allen Avenue Ikeja!
Now we approach the territory of her imperial majesty, Obidie of our generation, a collector of unmatched repute, Ifeoma Stella Ilodibe aka nwanyi diya tubelu ugo. Let’s do it the legal way here. We state categorically and unequivocally with no remorse or retraction whatsoever that Ifeoma Ilodibe is the jewellery connoisseur with unrivalled résumé. We stand on this assertion till eternity, contrary to some cynical opinions. We have nothing against this super posh mama who’s been collecting for decades. Married to the late multi-billionaire Ejikeme Ilodibe of Ekene Dili Chukwu fame, mama was seriously loved by her late husband, that he took her on almost all of his globetrotting business trip is stale news. How else do you realize your diamond dreams if not by travelling? Unlike some of her co-members on this list, she did not have to get into multiple marriage or sleep with any man to fund her high octane lifestyle of DeBeers diamond; she had unrestricted access to cash and her late husband did not mind. We posit that this light-skinned beauty is the undisputed queen of the precious metals. Her jewelleries are usually intricately woven in layers of troy ounces of precious metals, embellished with the most exotic gemstones. Corals, Mikimoto Pearls, Platinum which is even sixty times rarer than gold, Aquamarine, Amber, Ametrine, Baltic Amber, Sphene, Colombia And Zambian Emerald, Jasper, Kunzite, Peridot, Spinel, Prehnite, Goshenite, Sapphire, quantum amount of the most purified 750! At maiden Ibru daughter’s wedding months back at the Federal Palace Hotel she outshone all the top bling connoisseurs as she sashayed into the venue in this dramatic neckpiece that was a confederation of peacock-like diamonds set on troy ounces of the most exotic precious metal. Her bangles were even more dramatic and one of her rings was the size of a gear knob. Most society ladies were gazing in utter awe of the iconic craftsmanship. From the ’70’s Ifeoma has been collecting and her jewellers are the top names known names in Europe, London, Milan and Rome. When she steps into any party most society ladies nod their heads in confirmation of her super position in this league. In fact there is a popular saying amongst most Igbo celebrity women that no woman of Igbo extraction can compete with her in the jewellery department. We have indeed seen that from the evidences before us as she does not do casual, less is more or laid-back look. In utter flamboyance she outshines her contemporaries at any time, her style sits perfectly on her. She never does red carpet event neither will she ever grant press interview to talk about her style, so she is not one of the noise making ones, we love Mama Ilodibe!
Touted to be the richest woman in Africa, Hajia Bola Shagaya comes a long way. A bona fide member of this super A-list club, Bola is a known friend of almost all first ladies whether serving or former. In fact she has since taken up permanent residency in Aso Rock, the seat of power.
But we know her more as a protege of Maryam Babangida who should have been the president of this club were she to be alive. Bola loves her diamonds with a passion and she’s been buying with a vast speed since money became her best friend, Chopard, Rolex, Piaget, Franck Muller, Harry Winston, Bulgari, she has them all. Most times Bola tries to be very modest with her look but don’t get it twisted, she wears sinfully expensive diamonds that the ordinary eyes can never see, except with the help of a jeweller’s loupe.
There was so much anticipation on what she was going to adorn on her neck at her son’s wedding reception considering her reputation in the diamond world. Well she didn’t disappoint because she turned up wearing the most flawless of Colombian emerald diamonds that were sourced from those historic Muzo and Cosuez mines north of Bogota. We can authoritatively tell you that it was a multi-million dollar neckpiece!
Mariam Abacha is without doubt a bona fide member of this group, she and her three daughters Zainab, Gumsu and Rekyiah whose love for drugs is alleged to be unquantifiable and whose time at Bayero University,Kano was more than scandalous.
They might not have the dexterity of knowledge that these Lagos women have, but they make up for it via their purchasing power. They looted Nigeria blindly with petrodollar money hidden everywhere across the globe via proxies. The Abacha women buy diamonds with impunity; during their father’s tenure at Aso Rock, they would fly in top diamond dealers into Abuja on a private jet. The jewellers would arrive with boxes of the most exotic gemstones and precious metals from which they would all begin to make their choices. They shopped outrageously and hardly wore their legendary collections.
They have an undying passion for rubies and emerald and they acquired the best from across the globe because they are not the regular Lagos socialites, you won’t get to see their treasured items.
In the entire Christian world, there is no woman that can match Pastor Blessing Agboli in the diamond department. This stunning black beauty is so heavily into diamonds that her collection would shock a lot of those who don’t really know her. Always well put together, her outfits are either couture dresses or vintage lace fabrics of the highest grade. She’s not just into pastoral work as she has a multibillion naira oil and gas company with fleets of vessels on sea. If you know how much a vessel cost then you can imagine what fleets will cost.
She wears very huge sizes that will make the likes of Ifeoma Ilodibe and Folashade Okoya gaze in utter admiration, a look at some of her pictures online would reveal quite a handful but it’s those privileged church members that will tell you the depth of her collection. Her citrine diamonds are very fabulous and her wrist watches are usually very lavishly encrusted with the rarest gemstones. The arrangement of her jewelleries is very similar to Ita Giwa. They are always placed strategically and she buys vivid bright colours of flawless diamonds. In the Mikimoto pearl department she would give Daisy Danjuma a stiff competition as she doesn’t just wear pearls but in a very dramatic manner. Always looking like she is stepping out from the covers of Vogue magazine, madam is heavily into precious metal as her collection of platinum jewelleries defies description.
If Folorunsho Alakija, born into the Ogbara family were still sewing at her Supreme Stitches fashion office in Surulere she would never be on this list, but today Mrs. Alakija is the ultimate money making machine and trust the ever vicious Lagos socialites who follow her about like puppies. She was one of Maryam Babangida’s known tailors and was able to convince the late first lady to help them with an oil well. Maryam eventually mandated her husband to do it and today they have Famfa Oil. The Alakijas spent a lot of time and resources trying to get the deal to kick off but when it did it catapulted them to the top echelon of the social strata.
The well is run by Chevron and they get around $1 million every day. With that her jewellery acquisition is now on this league. No doubt, Folorunsho, like her exotic French laces teamed up with the best of Italian crafted coral necklaces but she has delved into the diamond thing big time. Party after party she steps out wearing eye popping diamonds, mostly encrusted on platinum 950T, it won’t be long before she displaces a lot of the iconic members of this club even though she’s not lousily flamboyant. She is one society lady who has managed her affairs with discretion and is without blemishes.
Sade Okoya is the Ojuelegba girl who got very fortunate in life by marrying the multi-billionaire industrialist, Alhaji Razak Akanni Okoya. For long Sade’s name has been systematically removed from this list because most style writers sympathize with the emotion of top society ladies. They all share the opinion that Sade is not only a gold digger who has kidnapped the love of Okoya but very arrogant in her style. Who would forget years ago at that society function when she attempted to sit with the Ojoras and she was driven away only for the Aare of Lagos, Razak Okoya to turn up almost immediately and pick a fight with his friend, Adekunle Ojora for daring to treat his wife like that. The fight got messy but Erelu Kuti of Lagos Abiola Dosunmu stepped in and calmed all nerves. Anyway, Sade has moved above that and today wears her troy ounces of precious metals with impunity; her taste is super bogus as she loves the attention grabbing neck pieces, topaz, ruby, sapphire, citrine, yellow diamonds, opal, jade. Obsidian, onyx, tanzanit, apatite, agate, amethyst, zambian and colombian emerald you will find them all in her vault. Her corals are simply mind-blowing as party after party most society women stare in utter wonder of how this once-upon-a-time local girl from the low end of Lagos eventually outshone them in this very vital department. She recently wore a detailed eye-popping neckpiece to a society party that left all in a zombie type awe. Layers of 900 palladium platinum embellished with the most vivid bright colour yellow diamonds, and her collection of troy ounces precious metal would attract the attention of the likes of Mrs. Ilodibe. Call her style vulgar or tacky, that’s your opinion because Sade’s jewellers in Europe and Asia are always happy to take her instructions and carve out those show-stopping bling. This model-like lady has become a wristwatch freak with a passion for the most ostentatiously studded watches and at the rate at which she is collecting it won’t be long before she surpasses other iconic members.
The next member of this club is by far the most controversial and we shall tell you why in clear terms Shade Alesh as she is popularly known is a bona fide member of this club, but what makes her a hot topic of discussion is her alleged source of wealth. Sade belongs to the powerful clique of textile merchants based on Lagos Island and the fact that the average Lagos Island textile merchant is openly known to be a cocaine pusher is no news. Sade has as best friend Alhaja Kudirat Adetoun a. k. a. Mama Lekan, super-drug baron of international repute and serial convict. Also, she has as best friend Alhaja Toyin Igbira notorious drug lord and wanted criminal by most drug enforcement agencies across the world. She is also very close to Akindele Ile-Eru notorious drug baron who was arrested in a most dramatic fashion; the list is endless. Her best friend is top society lady Gina Amarah who is based in Cotonou, a city very popular amongst the drug cartel for its porous borders and corrupt officials are legendary.
But her love life is even more colourful that the likes of global icon Jennifer Lopez with her so many husbands can’t even compete with her. So many men; but for lack of space we shall take a few: Ogedengbe, to whom bore her son Azeez, Araga, Rilwan Alesh whom she used and dumped unceremoniously and then you have Ijebu big boy Gboyega Soye who is currently on board. Amongst the group of lace merchants Sade is the diamond overlord. Long before she even opened her shop on Ozumba Mbadiwe, her jewellery collection was far intimidating that at parties she was known to wear the most expensive bling among the Island women reputed to be jewellery freaks, diamonds, Mikimoto pearls, platinum, corals, just name it Shade has it all on an alarming scale.
But during the tenure of Tinubu as governor her profile went up because she was very ‘close’ to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. Her then husband Rilwan Alesh was made Iru LGA chairman, so she transformed to a land vendor and began selling landed properties faster than even Jide Taiwo and having made so much she decided to turn her passion to a business and opened the most expensive jewellery shop in Lagos outshining even the likes of top jeweller Moji Paul and her Shoprite thing. In her shop she has diamond jewellery in the region of N40 million per necklace, N75 million naira, N100 million plus, $350,000 etc, she is without doubt top on this game, but some prominent society ladies are complaining that shade is in the habit of withholding their jewellery certificates and that you have to keep calling her continuously before she reluctantly let go of it.
Without an authentic certificate of purchase you cannot have a worthy appraisal valuation, for insurance purposes or outright selling, for when you travel out of this country you will just find out you are carrying a seriously overpriced accessory.
How else do we end this list but in a resounding manner? We end with the name that sent all established names scampering for safety, the one and only Offiong Ekanem Ejindu aka Fifi Ejindu.
The arrival of the impeccably stylish diva caused waves not only on the haute couture fashion scene but most notably in the diamond league. For this Efik woman came with so much showmanship that other members had to instantly overnight ‘induct’ her to the super elite club. We can tell you that having been schooled in New York, Fifi knew how the super posh grande dames of New York did it and iced with her own in born foxiness, she parades the best of colour, cut, clarity and carat weight. Amongst the top
Lebanese jewellers her name incites instant smiles which speaks volume of the respect they have for her. Her relationship with the most notable Italian jewellers in this world is even more intimidating, e.g. the likes of Nicola Bvlgari. As a collector of great repute Mrs Ejindu is the master connoisseur of our time. She has taken diamond acquisition to a level incomprehensible. When Ita Giwa gave out her daughter in marriage years ago she was dressed in a seriously handcrafted blouse that was sewn in many countries put together. Reputed to cost thousands of pounds, it made headlines, but today Fifi Ejindu has sent that record to the backseat for good with her VVS1 diamond encrusted outfit. Even on the Oscars red carpet who wears a diamond studded outfit? Fifi is by a mile the not stylish in this utter display of the lustre and brilliance of flawless diamonds. It is not a question of money as they all have it but Fifi Ejindu’s swag is only a thorough re-enactment of the life and times of Elizabeth Taylor, the undisputed queen of diamonds. But her relationship with Deji Aurum has taken this acquisition to a whole new height. The Indian born and Bahrain brought-up diamond mogul is one of the leading jewellers in the entire Asian continent. With Fifi’s huge investment in the Dubai it is no surprise she is a darling of the top jewellers. For the benefit of those who do not know, with so much cash flow in the Arab world, the Asian jewellers have an unprecedented access to the finest gemstones in the world and even the top Europe and American jewellers are finding the competition very stiff.