Femi Otedola’s Birthday And The Art Of Being Alive – By Keem Abdul


Ella Wheeler Wilcox was the who one noted that no difficulty can discourage, no obstacle dismay, and no trouble dishearten the man who has acquired the art of being alive. Many people go through life but never truly live. In obeisance to the fear of failure, many people shrink from life’s invitation to rise to their full potential despite the difficulties inherent in the process.

Difficulties are but dares of fate, and obstacles simply hurdles to finesse one’s skills. After each encounter with adversity from which a man emerges unvanquished, he rises higher and soars greater content with what The Almighty has provided and gracious enough to help others rise.

As Femi Otedola is gifted another birthday by God and as he receives deserved felicitations from all over the world, it will be easy for the undisciplined observer to forget that while Femi is a billionaire today, he too has encountered great adversity, been pummeled by Life, fought back from tough setbacks and continues to soldier on with a smile on his face. In 2008 with his business booming at an all time high, unexpected events occurred that not only sent him tumbling from the list of top billionaires and spiraling into over a billion US dollars in debt, but also into the kind of gloom that has forced other men to take their own lives. Indeed, as he acknowledged in an interview much later, he was presented with the option of either committing suicide or weathering the storm.

As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “He who loses money, loses much. He who loses a friend, loses much more. He who loses faith, loses all.” Femi Otedola is a man who was raised to believe in GOD and has come to have faith in His Creator’s loving masterplan decided to weather the storm.  Starting all over again from almost rock bottom, he gave up practically all he had to repay the debt brought on by a misfortune on the high seas and a global banking crisis that some of his contemporaries have not fully recovered from till this day. In his own words, “I had about 184 flats, which I gave up. I was the largest investor in the Nigerian banking sector, which I gave up, I was also a major shareholder of Africa Finance Corporation and I was the Chairman of Transcorp Hilton. I was a shareholder in Mobil Oil Nigeria Limited, the second largest shareholder in Chevron Texaco, Visafone and several companies which they valued, and I had to give them up to repay the debt.”

After tenaciously trudging through that tough trial, fortune favoured him again and by 2014, he was back on his feet and once more on the Forbes rich list. Yes, Femi Otedola is a billionaire once more but if all a man has is money, then he is poor. God has blessed him with a loving, healthy family and his children are successful in their individual fields of endeavour. His love isn’t restricted to his immediate family alone and we see through his philanthropic activities which he continued even during his tough times that it is not he who has much that is rich but he who gives much. History past, recent and present holds stories of how he has saved many lives by paying for medical treatment for people desperately in need of help but hitherto unable to find God’s hand extended through human kindness.

The goodwill Femi Otedola has amassed today is so great that even when he is behind the scenes mastering the art of life, his name keeps being mentioned for good. A glaring example of this was seen during the run up to the last governorship elections in Lagos when his name was being championed as a viable and veritable replacement for immediate past Lagos governor, Akinwumi Ambode. This was so widely believed and much clamored for even though Femi Otedola never made any such moves, choosing instead to honour his word to Ambode to not contest against him. To see a man who honours his word like that, believes in God loves and helps people is rare these days and it is one more reason why as he celebrates this birthday and the gift of life, many people will be making supplications to God expressing gratitude for the great gift he is to mankind. May his years be long and may his life be filled with only God’s very best.

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