Outside Femi Otedola, the number of men of wealth and affluence who have managed to retain a garment unsoiled with theft and swindling can be counted on one hand. Because apples almost never fall too far from their trees, this nearly spotless reputation of Femi Otedola has been attributed to the influence of his late father, Sir Michael Otedola.
A few days ago, the former chairman of Forte Oil celebrated the posthumous birthday of his venerable father. As one of the most well-to-do gentlemen in Nigeria and Africa, Otedola has the option of making statues in his father’s image or effecting hashtags in his name. He chose instead to make a quiet mention of the man because that was what he would have wanted. In the days of his power, Michael Otedola was not a very loud man.
He wore the nobility of his Southwestern origin with a naturalness that remains unmatched in the six years following his demise. More than anything else, Michael Otedola’s selling point was intolerance for injustice and unfairness—which is hiding today in the looting of national resources and treasury.
Before becoming governor of Lagos, Michael Otedola was a teacher. His talent for research and reporting soon led him to take up the notable leadership positions in the Guardian and Times media houses in England. He sharpened his editorial and reporting skills and eventually became a formidable figure in the Nigerian government, first as an information officer, and then editor of the Western Nigeria Illustrated. He also made a name for himself in Western Nigeria Television/Western Broadcasting Service and Mobil Oil Group of Companies. Then in 1992, he was elected the governor of Lagos State.
Michael Otedola’s penchant for justice and fairness—amidst progress and unity— is his most defining quality. All in all, he was a lover of people and one who bore compassion as a shield and the welfare of his people as an indomitable spear. It is therefore not altogether surprising that his son, Femi Otedola, is following in his steps.
Aside from individual interventions (recall how he saved the life of Christian Chukwu), Femi Otedola’s dedication to treating the bite marks of the COVID-19 pandemic is worth mentioning. It is reported that in less than six months, Femi Otedola has made donations to the Federal Government that eclipsed 5 billion.
This is the potency of Michael Otedola’s legacy—the philanthropy and generosity of Femi Otedola, which is reminiscent of his father’s enviable grace.