Who Is Femi Otedola? Biography and Life Achievements of the Nigerian Billionaire

Femi Otedola is a Nigerian entrepreneurial mogul and billionaire famously known as the former chairman of Forte Oil Plc. He is also the founder of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd, among others. In addition, he is a serial investor as he invests in many businesses in and outside of Nigeria. He has many businesses and investments that have earned him the rank of the third richest in the Forbes list of billionaires in Africa in 2021.

Beyond his career, Femi is a proud father of four children, some of whom are making waves in the Nigerian fashion and entertainment scenes. And a good husband to his wife, Nana Otedola. Here’s more about him and his achievements so far.

Profile Summary of Femi Otedola

  • Full Name: Femi Otedola
  • Date of Birth: 4th November 1962
  • Age: 59 years old
  • Place of Birth: Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
  • Nationality: Nigerian
  • State of Origin: Lagos State
  • Occupation: Businessman and Entrepreneur
  • Marital Status: Married
  • Children: 4

Femi Otedola is From Lagos State, Nigeria

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Femi Otedola was born on 4th November 1962 to the family of late Sir Michael Otedola, who was the governor of Lagos State between 1992 and 1993, and Lady Doja Otedola. He is from Epe Local Government Area in Lagos State, Nigeria. While growing up, he had an interest in the business world. The business mogul started a business he called Femco at the age of 6. He rendered manicure and pedicure services to family and friends, issued them the receipt of the charges for the job done. At such a young age, he was already business-oriented.

His father was a well-educated man who occupied several positions in Nigeria following his return to Nigeria in 1959. Because of his level of education, he was appointed Information Officer of Western Nigeria and Editor of Western Nigeria. Late Sir Michael worked for Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service and Mobil Oil Group of Companies. When he left Mobil, he still served as a business consultant to the company. All these positively influenced his son, Femi. Femi took after his father in business management. He was exposed to the family business, which laid the foundation for his entrepreneurial career.

Lady Doja Otedola, Femi’s mother, celebrated her 89th birthday in April 2021. She is a respected woman in society and is so much loved by her billionaire son, Femi. Lady Doja, the former first lady of Lagos State, loved and trained her children to be successful. She, alongside her husband, brought Femi and his brothers up with the right morals, gave them the support they needed to succeed, and gave them good lives.

He is the Second Out of Four Boys

Sir Michael Otedola and Lady Doja Otedola had four sons who were all successful in their businesses, although Femi is the most popular and the richest. The names of his brothers are Ayokunle, the first child, Femi is the second, followed by Rotimi, and then Muyiwa. The Otedola brothers are not as famous as their billionaire brother Femi, but they are all doing well for themselves. Femi and his brothers were raised in Lagos State, Nigeria.

Sometime in 2015, his brother Ayokunle made headlines after he was seen driving a truck in Lagos. According to different reports, Ayo owns a farm in Lagos, where he deals with different goods. However, he uses the truck to move his farm produce from his farm location in Epe to where he sells them. Aside from that, nothing much has been heard about Ayo and Femi’s other brothers.

How Femi Otedola Became One of the Richest Men in Nigeria

Before his venture into the petroleum sector, Femi Otedola worked for the family printing press in the ’80s. While studying at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, he combined his studies with working at his father’s printing business. The experience gotten from the printing company served as a foundation for his career and exposed him to the business strategies he needed to succeed. With this, Femi created several companies, invested in several other businesses, and bought himself a position as one of the richest men in Nigeria and Africa at large.

In business, there are ups and downs, risks, and time to enjoy the profits. Femi Otedola had a tough time moving up the ladder of success. At first, his success was rising, and he entered the Forbes list of World billionaires. He lost everything he worked for within nine months, and his net worth was reduced from $1.8 billion to $550 million. Femi weathered the storm and bounced back into the business; this time around, stronger than before. He built his net worth from $550 million to his current $5.9 billion net worth as of 2021. Here’s a breakdown of how he made his wealth and the companies and investments he earns from.

Otedola Founded Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited in 2005

After garnering enough skills and business knowledge, he decided to start up his own company. He didn’t relax or continue in his father’s company and business line; instead, he ventured into the oil and gas sector. In 2003, Femi Otedola founded Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd. The company is focused on the marketing and distribution of petroleum products.

The company grew to become successful such that by 2005, Zenon was a big name in the Nigerian petroleum market. In 2005, the company took a loan of $1.5 billion from 10 banks in Nigeria and purchased the largest storage for motor spirits in Africa. That same year, Femi acquired three cargoes: MT Lady Doja, MT Sir Michael, and MT Nana, named after his mother, father, and wife. As a company, Zenon secured deals with top Nigerian companies to which it supplied petroleum products. Some of these companies include Nestle, Unilever, Guinness, Dangote Group, Coca-Cola, Cadbury, and the Nigerian Breweries. Later on, the company acquired the largest share of 55.3% in African Petroleum Plc (AP). Then he owned a 75% share in the company.

He Owned Majority Share at Forte Oil

After acquiring the largest share in African Petroleum, Femi became the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the company. With his insights and efforts at rebranding AP, the name was changed to Forte Oil PLC in 2010. Forte Oil originally has over 500 gas stations in the country, manufactures its engine oil, and has many oil storage depots.

Femi purchased a few other shares and companies through Forte Oil. The Geregu Power Plant, worth $132 million, and another power plant in Kogi State were acquired in 2013 through Forte Oil. Femi Otedola sold 17% of his shares in his company to a Swiss commodity trader Mercuria Energy Group in 2015. It was reported that he made above $200 million from the deal.

In November 2016, he had a major setback in the oil and gas sector. He lost over half of his wealth to the drop in the stock price of Forte Oil in 2016. That was the period of forex crisis in Nigeria, and it affected him, too. Femi’s net worth reduced from $1.8 billion to $550 million, removing him from the billionaires’ list. He was not discouraged nor driven to suicide; instead, he managed to build the company up again. However, in 2019, Otedola sold the company to Prudent Energy Services Limited, a deal from which he made much profit.

Geregu Power Plant

After purchasing the Geregu Power Plant during the privatization of the power sector, Femi invested $94 million in Geregu. The purchase of this power plant was made under a subsidiary of Forte Oil called Ameperion Power Distribution Company. Later in 2018, the sum of $350 million was invested into the plant, just before the sale of Forte Oil PLC. In 2019, he sold his 75% shares of Forte Oil to concentrate on Geregu Power Plc, a power generating company. With this, he left his oil and gas sector for the power sector showing that the power sector is becoming more profitable by the day.

CenterForce Limited

This company was established in 1994 by the business magnate. Center Force Limited specializes in trading and finance investments. This is the first company he founded, and it was not based in oil and gas. Other companies he owns are

  • SeaForce Shipping Company Limited: This company was once known as the largest shipping company in Nigeria.
  • Swift Insurance: Registered in 2004, Swift Insurance Brokers Limited is one of Otedola’s companies located in Lagos.
  • F.O. Transport Nigeria Limited: Founded by Femi Otedola and registered on 25th July 2001. The transport company has five directors made up of Femi Otedola, his wife, and three daughters.
  • Atlas Shipping Agency: Located in Victoria Island, Lagos, Atlas is a private unlimited company owned by Femi, registered in 2002. He and his wife are the directors of this company.
  • FO Properties Limited: This is a real estate company owned by Femi. He acquired Stallion House, an estate located at Victoria Island, Lagos, in February 2007.

In addition to his sources of wealth, Femi is a major shareholder at United Bank for Africa (UBA) and Zenith Bank Plc.

List of Femi Otedola’s Major Achievements

Below is a list of the establishments and major achievements of the billionaire businessman Femi Otedola.

  • He is the founder of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited
  • He owns CenterForce Limited
  • Femi owned and earned from Forte Oil before selling it in 2019
  • He founded Geregu Power Plant
  • Other companies and businesses founded by Femi Otedola are
    • SeaForce Shipping Company Limited
    • Swift Insurance
    • F.O. Transport Nigeria Limited
    • Atlas Shipping Agency
    • FO Properties Limited
  • He encouraged the sustainability of the Sir Michael Otedola University Scholarship Awards Foundation, which his late father created.
  • He is the second Nigerian to be included on the Forbes list of dollar-denominated billionaires after Aliko Dangote.

The Billionaire Businessman Sits on the Chair of several Companies

  • Following the acquisition of a large part of African Petroleum in 2007, Femi Otedola was named the chairman and chief executive of the company.
  • He was a non-executive director of Transnational Corporation Nigeria Plc from 2006-2011.
  • Femi was a committee member of South Africa Commercial Leadership Development in 2004.
  • In 2011, he was appointed to Nigeria’s National Economic Management Team by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
  • He served as the Chairman of Transcorp Hilton Hotel in 2007.

Femi’s Awards and Recognitions

  • Man of the Year by the Silverbird Groups in 2019
  • This Day Philanthropist of the Decade
  • African Philanthropist of the Year award by African Leadership magazine in 2019
  • African Person of the Year award in the 2019 Investiture Ceremonies and Awards of the African Leadership
  • Award of Honor by the Sun Newspaper in 2020
  • The 2018 Zik Prize in Business Leadership
  • The Personality of the Year 2019/2020 by Vanguard

Femi Otedola Gives Back to Society in Many Ways

With the growing success of his career, Otedola donated to noble causes. He says that God has been kind to him and the only way he can show appreciation is by giving to the less privileged. He is a philanthropist as he gives to better the lives of many people and intends to continue this for the rest of his life. He paid hospital bills for some and sponsored others to kick off their projects. He does some of these charities through his foundation, Femi Otedola Foundation.

Below is a list of some of the beneficiaries of his charities.

  • N300 million to the completion of the Abuja National Ecumenical Centre in 2005
  • 80 million Naira to the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Port Harcourt
  • In 2019, the billionaire businessman donated $14 million to the Save the Children Fund through his daughter DJ Cuppy. The fundraising was organized by the Cuppy Foundation to support interventions for the destitute in North-Eastern Nigeria.
  • The foundation donated $500 million to the Saint Augustine University’s Faculty of Engineering building in 2018 on the event of their Founders Day and Fundraising celebration.
  • He donated N200 million to the Michael Otedola University scheme in 2005 through Zenon, which helped over 1,000 students.
  • Femi Otedola Foundation awards scholarships to indigent students in Lagos State
  • He donates heavily to the Lagos State Security Trust Fund. In 2007, he donated N200 million to the State Security Trust Fund, which was done to aid crime-fighting in Lagos.
  • Through his foundation, Otedola helped pay for the medical treatment of the retired university lecturer Dr. Inih Ebong who suffered a cardiac failure in 2020.
  • Femi donated $50,000 for the treatment of the former Green Eagles captain, Christian Chukwu. With the money, Christian Chukwu could carry out his surgery in London and get proper medical treatment.
  • The former Nigerian goalkeeper Peter Fregene, who was bedridden for years; Nollywood star Sadiq Aba; Late Majek Fashek, and Alaotan are some of the famous people who have benefited from the generosity of the business magnate.
  • He donated $25,000 to the Nigerian Super Eagle team in the AFCON 2019

Femi Otedola Has Been Involved in a Few Controversies

It is a common thing for public figures to be linked to one controversy or another. Because they are public figures, all eyes are always on them, and whenever they default in any way, it becomes news. Femi Otedola has been involved in some scandals since he became a household name. Below is a list of some controversies Otedola has been yoked in.

Allegations of Infidelity

In 2016, Femi was linked with extramarital affairs controversy with Kiran Matharoo and Joyti, two sisters based in Toronto. These ladies claimed that he was having an extramarital affair to extort money from him. They also claimed to have videos they would leak to the internet to prove their claims. However, their plans failed as Otedola dismissed these claims as false. Afterward, the rumors later died a natural death.

$3 Million Bribe Scandal

In 2012, Femi was involved in a $3 million bribery scandal with the Nigerian Government. It was reported that he bribed Farouk Lawan and Boniface Emenalo to remove the name of his company name from the list of those who owed the government. Farouk Lawan was the Nigerian Legislator who compiled the list of those that owed the Nigerian Government in a fuel subsidy scam, and Zenon happens to owe $1.4 million. To back up their claims, a video was released that contains the scene where Farouk collected money from Otedola.

Later on, it was discovered that Femi Otedola had reported Farouk’s habit of asking for and collecting bribes to the State Security Services. Farouk and Emenalo were prosecuted on 2nd February 2013 and charged with a seven-count charge of bribery. At first, both of them pleaded not guilty. But later, Boniface changed his plea to guilty and narrated how he had collected the bribe on behalf of his boss, Farouk. He further said that he collected Femi’s bribe to nail him.

In defense, Otedola said that his company was not in debt with the Government that Farouk only added it to extort money from him. He also claimed that he gave out $500,000, part of the $3 million, to nail Lawan as a sting operation by the State Security Service to collect evidence. The trial lasted nine years and had three different judges. On 21st June 2021, the judge dismissed Lawan’s account and accepted Otedola’s story. The judge, Angela Otaluka, considered the case based on merit and found Farouk guilty of the three-count bribery. Farouk Lawan was sent to seven years imprisonment.

Beyond His Career, Femi Otedola Has a Successful Family

Femi Otedola is married to the beautiful Nana Otedola. He has four children altogether, three daughters – Christine Tolani, Ifeoluwa, Temi, and a son, Fewa. The first child, Tolani, was birthed to him by Olayinka Odukoya, his former lover, while the rest are from his wife, Nana. One of his daughters is Nigeria’s most famous female DJ, Florence Ifeoluwa, also known as DJ Cuppy. Tolani, his first child, is a singer, while Temi is a blogger and an actress.

His only son Fewa and heir to his wealth is mentally challenged. He suffers from a condition called “Autism” and has been so since he was born; that is why he is not so much in the spotlight like his other siblings. Otedola is simplistic and only recently learned to use a tab, according to his daughter, DJ Cuppy. However, he enjoys cruising on his yacht when he’s not winning at life and making Forbes’ lists.

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