In Nigeria, life expectancy is 59 years for males and 60.87 years for females. These figures are among the lowest on the African continent and also across the world. Many factors contribute towards this and many times, having a buffer of wealth is by itself unable to guarantee longevity for Nigerians. It is now a rarity to see people live to be 80 years old in these parts so occasions such as those call for sober reflection, heartfelt thanks to GOD and communal celebration.
We can then understand the unbridled joy of the illustrious Otedola Family and their numerous well-wishers as their esteemed matriarch, Lady Christine Doja Otedola reached the grand age of 90. Many aged people became more endangered during the coronavirus pandemic as they were more at risk than younger people. Since the pandemic peaked and began to decline, people have become more deliberate about enjoying Life’s moments and celebrating more. Expectations were high that The Otedolas would roll out the drums to celebrate their matriarch’s entrance into the class of nonagenarians. They certainly did not disappoint.
It is not just that The Otedolas opulently celebrated their estimable matriarch that was the talk of the town. It was that they used the occasion to significantly acknowledge God as their benefactor and subtly nudge those that came to celebrate with them towards Him. To mark the occasion of her 90th birthday, Lady Christine Doja Otedola officially dedicated to God, Saint Peters Catholic Church, a church building she had erected in their town of Epe in gratitude to Him for the immeasurable goodness He has shown her. As one observer pointed out, she didn’t do it just because her family is of means and can afford to do so. She has notably been a committed Christian, serving consistently in her local church for years and raising her children into adults who also honour God and subscribe to sound Christian values. Her billionaire son, Femi Otedola has developed a reputation for being a philanthropist and one who does so not to scratch a moral itch but rather in gratitude to God and in service of humanity. Undoubtedly, his mother Lady Doja Otedola played a great role in shaping him to become the man he is today and the society is grateful for her impact through him and their family at large.
The Igbos have a saying which when translated into English means, He who has people is greater than those who have just money. The roll call of dignitaries who showed up to felicitate with Lady Doja Otedola attest to the truth that their family has been divinely endowed with the blessing of loving, honourable relationships as well as the gift of material wealth. Those who couldn’t show up in person made their love and honour felt in diverse ways. In a few months, if we look back, we may very well observe that the next President of Nigeria was present on the day or at least sent an emissary to represent him. Among the foremost guests present were His Excellency, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, His Excellency, former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, His Excellency, the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-olu and his wife, First Lady Ibijoke Sanwo-olu, His Excellency, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State, His Excellency, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, His Excellency, Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and His Excellency, Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State. Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote who is a very close friend to The Otedolas was present, as was Tony Elumelu, Godwin Emefiele, Jim Ovia, African Development Bank President, Akinwunmi Adesina. Royalty was present in the person of The Ooni of Ife Oba, Adeyeye Ogunwusi. Kingmakers too such as Chief James Ibori were not left out, as were many eminent personalities far too many to mention.
To be able to draw such goodwill for their matriarch’s 90th birthday celebration which held all the way in Epe reinforces the Biblical admonition that a good name is to be desired more than great riches. Pa Michael Otedola, the family’s now deceased patriarch who himself is a former Governor of Lagos State would have been proud to see his wife, his family and indeed his legacy honoured in such a way. Money isn’t everything. Only God can bless with long life, good health, riches and the attainment of Life’s best. The Otedola Family has always honoured God and made Him the Premier of their lives. May God bless them with the desires of their heart and indeed His very best.