Nigerian prince, 63, turned-Thames Water engineer sets up charity

Nigerian prince, 63, who has fixed leaks for Thames Water for 20 years sets up charity to provide boreholes and clean drinking taps for community back home

  • Akeem Adenuga’s brother is The Paramount Ruler of Odo-Ayandelu in Nigeria 
  • Mr Adenuga – who lives in Tottenham – came to UK in 1994 to study and stayed 
  • Climbed ranks and now leads team of engineers who fix hidden leaks in London
  • Hopes to combine professional expertise with royal influence and start charity
  • Charity Merry-Gold Water aims to raise initial £20,000 to provide clean water

A Nigerian prince who has fixed leaks for Thames Water for 20 years has launched his own charity to provide clean water for his community back home. 

Akeem Adenuga, 62, comes from Lagos, Nigeria, where his brother – King Asunmo Aderibigbe – is The Paramount Ruler of Odo-Ayandelu.

The prince – who now lives in Tottenham, north London – took a break from royal duties in 1994 to study in the UK.

He took up a job as a trainee leakage technician at Thames Water in 2000, and he has worked there ever since.

Mr Adenuga climbed the ranks and now leads a team of 24 engineers who find and fix hidden subterranean leaks across the capital. 

He hopes to combine his professional expertise with his royal influence and give something back to the community he left behind with his new charity Merry-Gold Water.

Nigerian prince Akeem Adenuga, 62 – who has fixed leaks for Thames Water for 20 years – has launched his own charity to provide clean water for his community back home

The charity aims to raise an initial £20,000 to provide clean drinking water in rural and vulnerable communities in Lagos. 

He wants to create boreholes with taps that everyone in the community can access. 

Mr Adenuga said: ‘I am a very private person and a lot of my friends don’t know my heritage.

‘People I have known for a long time only found out recently and said “wow, you are royal, you kept that quiet”.

‘But I am just myself and, I may be a prince, but I just live a normal life. 

‘Whenever I go back home I have a big reaction of course.

‘There are a lot of people in the house and everyone comes round. We have a good time together.

‘But this charity that I have launched will be a big surprise to them. I have not even told my brother, who is the king, what we are planning.

Mr Adenuga, 62, (right) comes from the state of Lagos, Nigeria, where his brother – King Asunmo Aderibigbe (left) – is The Paramount Ruler of Odo-Ayandelu. Centre: King Asunmo’s wife Olori Abimbola

‘I am very proud of that heritage, but in England I am just a leakage engineer and I love what I do.

‘But you cannot forget your roots and I want to give something back.’ 

Mr Adenuga is starting in his hometown of Agbowa-Ikosi – a two-hour drive from the city of Lagos – but wants to roll the scheme out across the wider region.

He added: ‘The aim and objective of the charity is to bring clean drinking water to the rural and local communities of Lagos state in Nigeria.

‘They have been deprived of clean water for too long. I have worked in the water industry for a long time and want to try and make a difference to the area that I came from.

‘It has been a long time coming but I have to create time as it is something I am very passionate about.

King Asunmo Aderibigbe is The Paramount Ruler of Odo-Ayandelu (pictured) in Nigeria

‘Every time I go back home I can see the struggle people go through for clean drinking water and this is what I can do to help out.’

Mr Adenuga invited people from Nigeria, friends from America and Ireland, and some from Thames Water for his virtual charity launch on Saturday.

He added: ‘I want to achieve a modern borehole for them and need around £20,000 to start. 

‘I need a pumping machine, generator and all that to put in to make sure we have everything we need on the ground to achieve clean water for the whole community.

Mr Adenuga (pictured) climbed the ranks and now leads a team of 24 engineers who find and fix hidden subterranean leaks across the capital

‘The first phrase of the project is to protect my village and then I want to roll it out to further areas.’

Mr Adenuga, who is married and has five children, added: ‘Water is something I have always been passionate about.

‘I believe water is life and I am fascinated with the way the whole thing works. We don’t have the same technology back home that we have here.

‘I am lucky that I am in a position to make a difference. The reaction so far has been really positive and I am overwhelmed. My colleagues have been so helpful.

‘The situation in Nigeria is not as bad as it used to be. It is just that people have a borehole in individual houses if they have money.

‘For the people who cannot afford it, they struggle for water and go around looking every day.

‘We want a community refreshing point with a pumping station and a borehole inside the building, with taps outside, that everyone can access.

‘There is obviously room for a lot of improvement, but I have learned a lot since I came over here and these are useful tools for me to go back home and help my people.’

To donate to Mr Adenuga’s appeal, click here. 

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