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Femi Otedola: Nigeria’s most influential power player and man of impact clocks 60

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UGO AMADI

“Do work that matters. Choose to participate in initiatives that will positively impact the world and help make a difference in your community.”― Germany Kent

“It’s not how much you have but what you do with what you have makes a difference.”― Dr. Lucas D. Shallua.”

Barely in this part of the world would you easily find a man like Femi Otedola, who chooses to live a life of impact through participating in initiatives that will positively affect the world and help make a difference in people’s life.

An entrepreneur, philanthropist, experienced leader, skillful administrator, oil mogul, boardroom technocrat, and one of Nigeria’s most influential power players, Otedola cannot be forgotten easily because he has a depth of life through  which he makes positive impacts across generations and people of all race.

He is invariably committed to selfless service and lifestyle like Aristotle said “Man is at his best when he is doing his best at what he likes doing best”. This quote succinctly describes the life of this great man,  Otedola has been carrying this philosophy as an epistle of his life, fortified by his deep personal commitment to the dignity of work being more valuable and ensuring he put smiles in the life of many.

For starters, Femi Otedola is not your regular fellow. He ranks well and truly as an unusual businessman and oil magnate, one who is not only outstanding at what he does, but a man who also stands head and shoulders apart from his peers.

 

Accurately, the story of the energy sector in Africa and in his home country Nigeria would be incomplete without a profuse mention of the tactical role he played in many categories. But it is in chronicling his exceptional journey of well over two decades in various fields of endeavours that some of the unique and exciting qualities that make Femi  a rare breed are revealed.

 

It is interesting to note that he has proven in all scores to be a wise and smart business person and a revolutionary oil and gas model who has positively impacted Nigeria and Africa. He has enabled business in a way no other entrepreneur has while his voyage into the corporate world is baroquely crusted and iconic. Indeed, he is one man who has demonstrated a great capacity to show the way to lead men where they ought to be and shown that nothing so conclusively proves a man’s ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself.

 

Born in Ibadan, Oyo State on the 4th of November, 1962, to the family of the former governor of Lagos State, the late Michael Otedola, and Lady Doja, a well-established businesswoman welcomed this icon. Femi is a native of Epe local government in Lagos.

 

The well-known popular businessman attended the University of Lagos Staff School. He furthered his education at the prestigious Obafemi Awolowo University in 1985, Ile–Ife Osun State, where he achieved his first degree.

 

After schooling, he started working as a marketing personnel in his family’s printing business, Impact printing press in the early nineties and then went on to establish Centerforce Limited in 1994, a finance and investment company.

Otedola is also the owner of Swift Insurance and chief executive and president of SeaForce Shipping Company Ltd and was at one point Nigeria’s largest ship owner after extending control over the distribution of diesel products. One of his ships, a flat-bottomed bunker vessel with a storage capacity of 16,000 metric tonnes, was the first of its kind in Africa.

In January 2006, Otedola was appointed a non-executive director of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc, a multi-sectoral conglomerate established in 2004 by then-President Olusegun Obasanjo to respond to market opportunities requiring heavy capital investment in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa. He held this post until February 2011.

 

In 1999, he founded Zenon Petroleum & Gas Limited, an indigenous company that engaged in the procurement, storage, marketing, and distribution of petroleum products. At some point, Zenon Petroleum controlled more than 90% of the diesel supply business in Nigeria for nine years. In 2007, he acquired a controlling stake in the government-owned African Petroleum Plc which operated gas stations across the country. He grew the company into one of the largest publicly-traded downstream oil companies in Sub-Saharan Africa at the time. At some point, he was also one of the largest private owners of real estate in the swanky Victoria Island and Ikoyi neighborhoods in Lagos and owned some of the most prestigious commercial landmark properties in Abuja.

 

In 2008, his stake in African Petroleum was worth over $1.2 billion, and that same year, he became the second Nigerian, after Aliko Dangote, to be included in Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of the world’s billionaires. At 46, he was the youngest African billionaire on the Forbes list at the time. Otedola subsequently renamed his company Forte Oil (FO) to match his name, and in 2013, he led the company to acquire a 414-gigawatt power-generating plant from the Nigerian government during a government-led privatization round. In 2018, he unbundled the power assets of Forte Oil and created a separate company, Geregu Power, which he controls today. That same year, he sold off Forte Oil’s downstream businesses for hundreds of millions of dollars to a leading oil distribution firm in Nigeria.

 

Femi Otedola is one of Nigeria’s most influential power players. In 2010, he played a crucial role in encouraging the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to assume the presidency when President Umaru Yar’Adua became incapacitated. He still remains one of the more colorful personalities in Nigerian business and social circles.

 

He was once appointed chairman of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja and tasked with driving its expansion and upgrade to a seven-star facility.

 

He has served as a member of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) since 2004, and the same year was appointed to a committee tasked with developing commercial relations with South Africa. In 2011, Femi Otedola was appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan to Nigeria’s National Economic Management Team. In 2020,

 

On October 2021, he was announced as the single largest shareholder (5.07%) of First bank PLC, one of Nigeria’s largest financial services groups.

 

Otedola has since divested from his interests in the shipping business and is now channeling his energies toward fixing Nigeria’s electricity deficit. Today, he is the chairman of Geregu Power PLC, a power-generating company that made history in the month of October by being the first electricity-generating company to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. Geregu Power has three STG5-2000E gas turbine generator units with a 435 MW installed capacity, and the company has been shortlisted by the Nigerian government to acquire a second plant currently owned by the government with a generating capacity of 729 MW. Otedola owns a 95-percent stake in the $650-million (market cap) company.

 

Femi Otedola’s first daughter, Tolani, is a singer. She was born to Otedola and his former lover, Olayinka Odukoya. Later, Femi married Nana Otedola and had two more daughters—Florence Ifeoluwa and Elizabeth Temi—and a son, Fewa. Florence Otedola, aka DJ Cuppy, is a DJ and music producer, as well as a tourism ambassador for Nigeria. Her younger sister, Temi, is an actress, a style blogger, and an aspiring designer. Otedola has homes in Lagos, Abuja, Dubai, London, and New York City.

As he turns 60 , Femi displays no cyphers of aging and still has the same vigour, brilliance, and zeal he exuded in turning ideas into reality in his early years. he is a living example of how creative innovative ideas and fortitude can be combined to achieve astonishing results.

 

He creates a composite image of endeavour and an ideal principle of maturity. Repulse him with every grit in your vein, treasure him with every air you breathe, or be apathetic to his style, philosophy, and essence, the billionaire is a man you could vouch has fulfilled his destiny with panache.

 

As we extol his virtues, the make of this great man of our time is better appreciated in the forte of his leadership commitments, the validity of his dealings, the trustworthiness of his purpose, the quiet valor of his principles, his capacity to suffer and his disposition to endure in order to achieve success and positively impact the lives of millions.

 

Recently,  Nigerian billionaire Femi Otedola is celebrated his 60th birthday on the French Riviera aboard the 99.13-meter-long Christina O Yacht, once owned by the late Greek shipping tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

 

Interestingly, Otedola is one of Nigeria’s most generous philanthropists, he has given away more money to philanthropic causes than any other Nigerian billionaire, except Aliko Dangote, over the last twenty years. In November 2019, during an event in Abuja that was graced by Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Femi Otedola donated a record NGN 5 billion – roughly $14 million at the time – to Save the Children, a UK non-governmental organization. The funds have gone a long way towards improving the lives of destitute children who have been victims of a lingering humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s northeast region. In November last year, he was invited by Save the Children to join the prestigious group as the organization’s vice president, in recognition of his philanthropic efforts to better the lives of children in Nigeria. In 2020, he also donated $2.27 million toward COVID-19 relief efforts, and last year he built and donated a $4.7 million complex to the Engineering department of Lagos-based Augustine University. He is also the Chancellor of Augustine University and has sponsored scholarships for Nigerian students for two decades.

 

In 2019 when local media inquired about his motivation for donating the NGN 5 billion to Save the Children U.K, Otedola said: “In my life, in my journey, I have taken the risk, I have done the chase, I have enjoyed the thrill, I have achieved success and recognition. What next? You give it back. A lot of people think when they die they’ll take their money with them. We’ll see.”

 

Otedola has also gained acclaim for funding the exorbitant medical bills of some of Nigeria’s most prominent personalities. In 2019 he paid over $50,000 for the treatment of former Super Eagles captain and coach Christian Chukwu in London. Otedola also paid over €130,000 to save star actor Victor Olaotan at a hospital in Turkey and footed the bills of Reggae superstar Majek Fashek when he was battling neck and throat cancer at a London hospital. Other people who have benefited from Otedola’s generosity in a similar regard include Super Eagles former goalkeeper Peter Fregene, award-winning actor Sadiq Daba, Professor Ini Ebong, and celebrated romance writer Kayode Ajala among many others. On various occasions, some of the recipients of Otedola’s generosity were unable to reach him to thank him for his generosity and thereby opted to make videos that they put up in the public domain with the hopes that he would see them.

 

Otedola has made several donations to the Michael Otedola University Scholarship Scheme, which was established in 1985 to give underprivileged students in Lagos State access to higher education. In 2005 Zenon donated N200 million to the scheme’s fund Since its inception the scheme has benefited more than 1,000 students.

 

In 2005, Otedola made an N300 million personal donation to the completion of the National Ecumenical Centre—Nigeria’s primary place of Christian worship—in Abuja.In 2007 he was among a group of donors who gave N200 million to the State Security Trust Fund in a drive to reduce crime in Lagos State Later that year he donated N100 million to the Otedola College of Primary Education in Noforija, Epe.

In 2008 he donated N80 million to the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Port Harcourt. Femi Otedola fulfilled his pledge of 25,000 dollars to the Super Eagles in the match against Algeria in the 2019 AFCON

He is indeed a man of integrity, a leader of men, an achiever, a man close to the people, and a philanthropist who through his pan-African philanthropic foundation, has assisted Nigeria and other African countries to achieve social, economic, and technological development while contributing to an improved future humanity.  Today he stands out as a global Nigerian patriot from the Southwest.

 

Also, his love for mankind is amazing which stands him an outstanding corporate leader, humanist, and visionary businessman who has over the years been working tirelessly to support all manner of people, including the less privileged members of society.

 

We join all his teeming fans, associates, friends, and family to appreciate and wish this rare gift of God to Nigeria, and indeed, Africa, Femi Otedola a blissful 60th birthday.

 

 

 

 

 

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