There is no terrain more precarious, no battlefront more fraught with dangers and the looming shadow of defeat than the world of business in Nigeria. While many cower in fear or soil their undergarments at the prospect of doing battle in this do-or-die arena, Femi Otedola revels in the challenge. A battle-hardened but not war-weary general of the commercial sector, the chairman of Forte Oil has earned his spot as one of the main men in Nigeria’s socio-political and business space.
Given his achievements which earn him regular appearances on the continental rich lists compiled by international organizations of repute, Otedola is shockingly lacking in the pride and arrogance which some of his peers have woven around themselves like an all-encompassing cloak. He is a bundle of smiles, delightful ease and effortless fraternity, a combination unheard of among Nigeria’s league of billionaires.
Thursday showed his self-effacing mien on glorious display in the full glare of the public. Having landed in the ancient city of Kano for one reason or the other, he couldn’t miss the chance to reconnect with his buddy in person of the Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi. Otedola and the former CBN governor had a good time but the icing on the cake came when he prostrated to Sanusi as a mark of respect for the latter’s status as a traditional ruler. The amazement of onlookers at the scene was swiftly followed by delight as they clapped for the show of humility by Otedola.
Unlike those billionaires whose vanity increases as their wealth rises, Otedola’s pride resides, not in himself or his money, but in the impact he makes. He keeps his eyes focused on concrete goals rather than worry about trifling things like index of popularity or approval ratings. He is one man whose life and conduct give meaning to the oxymoron “humble billionaire