A few weeks after his N5 billion donation to the Save the Children foundation towards helping indigent children in the war-ravaged north east of Nigeria, Femi Otedola’s deed is still causing shock waves across Nigeria.
For some, it sounds impossible for one man to be able to give away that much money and they believe it is a publicity stunt, or as the streets call it “audio money”. To some others, it doesn’t make sense for a Yoruba man to give money to people of another ethnic group. Well, evidently they do not see the truth in Francis Bacon’s saying to the effect that though charity may begin at home, it shouldn’t end there.
Femi Otedola has for a long time held the belief that it is far better and more gratifying to make a difference in the lives of the poor and give them an opportunity to also make it in life. In his own words, “God has been so kind to me in life. I feel highly privileged. The only way I can show my gratitude to Him is to use my resources to support those who are underprivileged. This I intend to do for the rest of my life. In a world full of conflicts, diseases, calamities and inequality we all need to show the milk of human kindness, to reach out and comfort the sick and give a helping hand to the weak. A lot of people think when they die, they take their money with them, we’ll see. In my journey of life, I have taken the risk, I’ve done the chase, I’ve enjoyed the thrill and I have achieved success and recognition. What next? You give it back!”
It is better to tell your money where to go than to ask where it went. This informs why genuine philanthropists like Femi Otedola carefully choose the object or focus of their giving. For instance, in Otedola’s N5 billion donation, he felt comfortable giving it to Save the Children foundation because they have a global reputation of integrity. He knew they would not steal one kobo of whatever he gave and that the results would be clearly seen. For 2019, he is the biggest individual donor to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF). He and other donors were celebrated at an event tagged “Transformational Security” this past Tuesday in Lagos and the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-olu commended him for consistently intervening to improve society. The LSSTF has been in existence for 12 years and was set up with the aim of reducing the critical deficiencies in equipment, training and logistics of security agencies operating in Lagos. Donors such as Femi Otedola represent a private version of the legislative process – a deliberative process that selects goals, set values and allocates resources…. an alternative vehicle for getting things done.
There are many things to be gleaned from Femi Otedola’s life which can serve as a beacon of light to millions of people. His first book, a biography titled “Business Lessons” will be on sale soon and it will further add to his established legacy of greatness impacting lives and society. As Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote stated, Femi Otedola has by his selfless giving and living, transcended the level of merely being a rich man. He is certainly a wealthy man and it is from that treasure trove which is far beyond money that he is impacting and will continue to do so.