Inside Femi Otedola’s Catalogue of Awards

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Inside Femi Otedola’s Catalogue of Awards

March 26
11:30 2021

Winning awards is no longer a sometime thing for billionaire Femi Otedola; his boundless and borderless philanthropy has ensured that it is an all the time thing. For this, and more, Otedola ticks all the boxes and tops the list in any award consideration by media organisations and other awarding institutions. At the moment, his shelf must be brimming over with the different awards and honours that have come his way in the last two years alone.

In the life of Femi Otedola, nothing trickles, everything pours; and in torrents too. From the beginning of the year 2020, it had been one award or honour or the other in appreciation of his personification of the art of giving. He teed off the year with the coveted ‘Philanthropist of the Decade’ award by Thisday newspaper. As part of activities commemorating its 25th anniversary in January 2020, the board of Thisday Newspaper awarded 24 individuals and institutions for their contributions to the socio-economic and political growth of Nigeria.

Otedola was so honoured, according to the awards committee, “Given his recent hefty donations to public cause and lifting the needy, it is not surprising that former Chairman of FORTE Oil Plc, Mr. Femi Otedola, is the people’s choice for philanthropist of the decade. His singular donation of N5 billion to assist children of terror-ravaged North-east remains unexampled. Some prominent Nigerians such as Sadiq Daba, Victor Olaotan, both actors; and former Green Eagles captain, Christian Chukwu, were rescued from the jaws of death by his philanthropic intervention in their medical issues.”

Indeed, in November 2019, Otedola had donated a whooping N5 billion to the Save the Children Foundation, a UK-based charity platform committed to improving the welfare of Nigeria’s vulnerable and marginalised children in the north-east. The donation was made through Cuppy Foundation, a non-profit organisation founded by Florence Otedola (DJ Cuppy), his daughter, who is a board ambassador for Save the Children and a member of the organisation’s Africa advisory board.

Humanity has, indeed, benefitted immensely from Otedola’s prosperity. The benevolent billionaire has been responsible for the revival of the lives of some prominent Nigerians. He sorted the medical expenses of the famous reggae icon, Majek Fashek, who was sick and stranded in London. Majek later died in his sleep in June 2020. Otedola also footed the N36m medical bills of former captain and coach of the Super Eagles, Christian Chukwu, who had a surgery at the Wellington Hospital, London. Just as he also came to the aid of Peter Fregene, a former Green Eagles goalkeeper, who had been bedridden since 2001; and popular actor, Victor Olaotan, a lead character in the popular TV soap opera series, Tinsel.

Veteran actor, Sadiq Daba, remains in Otedola’s eternal debt for still being alive. In 2017, Daba, who had been battling leukaemia and prostate cancer for the past few years, returned to Nigeria from the UK where he went for medical treatment on the bill of Otedola. A lot of elite philanthropy is about elite causes but not so for Otedola who, in 2019, also offered to assist ailing Nigerian lecturer, Inih Ebong, a former associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts, University of Uyo, who was wrongly dismissed from his job in 2002 and despite several legal victories, has still not been reinstated. The list of beneficiaries of his large-heartedness is inexhaustible.

At the outbreak of the corona virus pandemic, Otedola was one of the billionaires who quickly rose to move the needle on rapid response efforts. He announced a donation of N1 billion towards the eradication of the pandemic in Nigeria, stating, “I will be contributing 1Billion Naira towards the eradication of COVID-19 across Nigeria. We must all do what we can to flatten the curve.”

He is not missing in the area of educational philanthropy. Otedola dazzled at the Augustine University’s Fundraising and Founders’ Day event held at the Muson Centre, Onikan, Lagos in 2018 when he pledged to donate a well-equipped Faculty of Engineering building to the institution. The foundation for the building, worth N2billion, was laid at a quiet ceremony on November 27, 2018. Similarly, he has made several donations to the Michael Otedola University Scholarship Scheme, which was established in 1985 by his late father, Sir Michael Otedola, to give underprivileged students in Lagos State access to higher education. Since its inception, the scheme has benefited more than 1,000 students. He once donated N100 million to the Otedola College of Primary Education in Noforija, Epe, Lagos State while in 2008, he donated N80 million to the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Port Harcourt.

Also in 2019, he was named the biggest individual donor to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund (LSSTF). Subsequently, he and some other donors were celebrated at an event, ‘Transformational Security’ and the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, personally commended him for consistently intervening to improve the society. All of these have not gone unnoticed by a discerning world.

He was honoured by the Silverbird Group as its Man of the Year 2019. The same year, he won the 2019 African Philanthropist of the Year by respected African Leadership magazine for his unequalled philanthropy and charitable contributions to society. At the African Leadership Persons of the Year Investiture Ceremonies and Awards gala night held in Johannesburg, South Africa, Otedola’s famous daughter, DJ Cuppy, received the award from the President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, on his behalf.

The billionaire chairman of Geregu Power Plant shared the news on Instagram with a message: “It is an honour to receive the 2019 African Person of the Year award for philanthropy and charitable contributions to society. Yesterday night, DJ CUPPY represented me in accepting this prestigious award from Mr. Akinwumi Adesina, President African Development Bank in Johannesburg, South Africa.”

The African Leadership Magazine Persons of the Year, which is in its eighth year, is an annual award reserved for distinguished Africans considered to have blazed the trail in the year under review. A shortlist of nominees is selected from results gathered via a Call for nominations, traditionally promoted via paid online and offline campaigns across the continent, Europe, and the Americas. The call for nomination is the first step in a multi-phased process and followed by the voting process and the eventual announcements of winners.

Otedola was also a winner in the Leadership in Business category of the 2018 Zik Prize in Leadership Awards, which was instituted in 1995 to award prizes to exceptional leaders in honour of Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first president. “The purpose of this award is to encourage and nurture leadership in the African continent and Diaspora,” Professor Pat Utomi, a member of the advisory board, said.

On his humanitarian gestures, Otedola was quoted as saying, “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!”



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