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Remembering Femi Otedola at 59 By Keem Abdul

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As Femi Otedola clocks 59 today the 4th of November 2021, he will become a deserving recipient of goodwill and congratulatory messages from all over the world. Felicitations will pour in from friends, family, business partners and colleagues, the clergy, and reputable firms to name a few. 

Born in the imperial city of Ibadan, the man is exceptionally blessed and carries a name that has, in many years, been a source of blessing to more families than the media can keep track of. The handsome, calm, and fashionable Nigerian billionaire and philanthropist is very well known across the African continent. His name also rings a bell when mentioned in many elite circles across the globe. He is practically ubiquitous that he made the list of the 100 most Reputable Africans organised by Reputation Poll international in 2020.

Femi Otedola, founder and chairman of Geregu Energy Group, is great at many things; he is a shrewd businessman, a loving father, an investor, a philanthropist extraordinaire, and a popular socialite. For the thriving business landscape, Femi Otedola is regarded as a leader when it comes to successfully attracting implementing, and retaining long-term investments. Together with an instinctive understanding of the threads of fortune and Providence, Otedola’s mainstream business polishing is such that he never falls short of the mark, as evidenced by the long strings of success. 

Not so many individuals or businesses as we know can thrive in the murky, fiercely competitive global business environment without being smeared with controversy. Femi is one unique businessman who has at many times proven to be without scandals, even as a public figure. Many people have attributed this to his kindness and humility. Whatever the cause is, he is unquestionably loved and held in high esteem by people across all strata of society.

 

His good deeds

Nigeria boasts of many billionaires from all sectors, however, only a few have been tremendously generous with their wealth. Among these forthcoming philanthropists is Femi Otedola, a man who easily holds top spot in the country when it comes to helping the poor and needy. 

Truly, there are notable good Samaritans in the country, but how many were willing to offset the medical bills of the now-late veteran actor, Sadiq Daba? Femi Otedola not only stood by the actor; he also sorted his medical bills. 

Femi has, through his foundation, lent a helping hand to promoting the welfare of the citizens of our beloved country, Nigeria.

Recently, he set another milestone when he aided the treatment of Dr Inih Ebong who until 2002 was an associate professor of theatre arts at the University of Uyo. Dr Ebong was diagnosed with congestive cardiac failure and was without the funds to sustain the heavy medical bills issued by the hospital after he was forcefully retired by the university. The case was taken to court where he won the legal battle but was still denied a reinstatement. When Femi Otedola got word of this through a newspaper, he offered to help.

Femi Otedola’s foundation also championed many life-saving interventions. One of such is the case of former Green Eagle’s captain, Christian Chukwu, who was battling a health condition and needed urgent assistance. Femi Otedola, on learning about the former captain’s condition, did not hesitate to send out a representative to Enugu with a $50, 000 cheque to pay for the captain’s flight abroad and cover medical expenses. Chukwu, after he was flown to London had a successful surgery.

What more can be said of his extremely philanthropic gesture? Otedola, in many of his interventions, single-handedly took care of the medical bills of former Nigerian goalkeeper Peter Fregene, late legendary Nigerian musician Majek Fashek and Veteran actor Victor Olaotan.

When he was asked in a Telephone interview by a radio presenter what made him the happiest man in life, Femi said, “I have gone through four stages of happiness in life and finally I understood the true meaning of happiness.”

Of all the four stages, the fourth stood out for him. The fourth stage was a time a friend asked him to buy wheelchairs for some 200 disabled children. At the request of his friend, he immediately bought the wheelchairs, and upon distributing them to beneficiaries, he saw the glow of happiness on their faces. He saw them all sitting on the wheelchair, moving around, and having fun, and that was when he felt a distinct kind of joy. For a man with such epiphany, it’s no surprise that he continues to give selflessly.

 

His Loss

In 2008, Otedola had about 93% of the diesel market at his fingertips. Through his company, Forte Oil, he had grown the petroleum and power generation company to one of the largest in Nigeria. However, a sudden collapse in oil prices affected over 1 million tons of diesel he had on the high seas which dropped from $146 to $34.

That period marked the beginning of his dark days. The value of naira dropped causing a rise in interest. By the time the smoke cleared, Otedola had lost a whopping sum of $480 million.

But he did not respond with despair as many would have expected. In fact, in a newspaper publication, he said this: “I had two options, either to commit suicide or to weather the storm. I decided to weather the storm. I just knew it was a phase I had to go through. You see, God prepares you for greater things and of course, experience is the best teacher so I had to learn my lessons. I took the bitter pill.” In that we see a man who carries an admirably positive spirit through life’s setbacks.

 

His love for family

Nigerian billionaire, Femi Otedola, has shown in many ways that a man should never be too busy for his family. The authenticity in this statement is evident in the fact that he never misses a chance to celebrate his children whenever there is a notable event in their lives. If there is one thing people love about Femi, it is the fact that he creates time to spend memorable moments with his family.

Recently, the proud father took to his page Instagram to dedicate a special birthday post to his daughter Tolani, who just clocked a new age.

His love for family is something worthy of admiration and has had many of his followers on social media wishing he was their father. About a year ago, there was a buzz all over social media when he bought three of his daughters a Ferrari each. The cost for each, ranging from 80 to 90 million naira left many youths pointing at how lucky the girls are and praying their parents would treat them to such luxurious gifts.

But Femi Otedola is not just one to distract his children with gifts and expensive vacations. He actively supports and encourages their dreams at every step to the point of realisation. Many times, you will find him sharing Instagram posts of his disc jockey daughter, Ife, also known as Cuppy; his fashion blogger daughter Temi and Songstress Tolani’s works. 

He is likewise a proud husband to his wife Nana whom you find him occasionally gush about on social media. She is obviously his biggest supporter when it comes to his business, and he never seizes to acknowledge her role in his success story.

As Femi Otedola celebrates this milestone, many Nigerians are appreciative of the fact that his generosity is not restricted to his immediate family. 

Like the words of Francis Bacon, Femi Otedola has shown that “charity begins at home but [does] not [have to] end there.” We cannot help but celebrate a man who continues to touch the lives of many through his astute business leadership and many philanthropic actions.

Happy 59th birthday F.O!

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