Femi Otedola: Philanthropy taken to a whole new height

In a world afflicted with wars, natural disasters, diseases, and widening inequalities; neither can the call for men and women with a large heart too loud nor their supply too surplus to requirement. If anything, they can only be inadequate.

We all know that Nigeria’s North-east has been ravaged by war of terror hatched by the lawless group called Boko Haram, fighting with impunity for a theocratic or what may be called an Islamic state.

Among other atrocities committed by the ISIS backed group, schools in their numbers have been destroyed.

Girl-child in their hundreds have been abducted from their various schools many of whom were married off as child-brides, sexually abused and impregnated, murdered, and brainwashed as suicide bombers.

The lucky ones were either ransomed with undisclosed sums of money or swapped with Boko Haram prisoners in the custody of the Nigerian government.

Even as we speak Leah Sharibu, one of the last set of girls to be abducted by the terror group is still being held purportedly on the ground that she refused to deny her Christian faith. No one can tell for sure if she’s still alive.

Women have been raped, tortured, and killed right before their husbands and children; and men likewise.

Proportionately, Mosques and Churches have been razed and worshippers killed. Farmers have been displaced from their farms. Artisans callously killed.

Indeed, victims of their dastardly acts cut across the boundaries of the two dominant religions in Nigeria and across all ethnic nationalities.

In conclusion, it would be an economical truth to say social and economic activities have nearly halted in that region, especially in Bornu State. 

The entire landscape of the country’s north is today littered with IDP’s camps teeming with unschooled, unclothed, unshod, diseased and malnourished children and mothers, jobless able-bodied men and women and traumatized directly or indirectly drawn from the activities of the insurgents or their fleeing members who have mutated into other criminal activities for survival.

Profile image: Otedola in all-white attire at the ball. 

So much that an urgent intervention is needed to arrest the situation and bring succor to the sick, stressed, distressed, and a helping hand to weak.           

In a clear response to the urgent call to affect these ones and other lives and show the milk of human kindness Nigeria business mogul, Femi Otedola doled out what’s arguably the single largest donation in the history of philanthropy in the country. He gave out N5billion for the North-east intervention.

This he did through his daughter at a ball organized by the Cuppy Foundation. The Cuppy Foundation is a Non-for-profit organization founded by Florence Ifeoluwa Otedola popularly known as DJ Cuppy.

The well-attended event took place at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja on the 10th of November, 1999. In attendance were the Vice president Yemi Osinbajo, Aliko Dangote, Lagos State Governor Babajide San-Olu and his Ogun State counterpart, Dapo Abiodun to mention a few.

Specifically, the donation was made to the Save The Children charity which a 100-year-old United Kingdom-based charity. 

It might interest you to know that the charity organization is the biggest children-focused organization after UNICEF.

Its focus is to improve the lives of children through better education, health care, and economic opportunities as well as providing emergency aid in natural disasters, war, and other conflicts.
Of course, the donor’s daughter who’s also the facilitator is a Board Ambassador for the Save The Children and a Member of the organization’s Africa Advisory Board.

While Otedola may not be the richest man in Nigeria, he has, however, demonstrated so far an uncommon commitment to philanthropy, helping the underprivileged.

He rubbed shoulders with some of the towering names in this regard. To be sure, names like Aliko Dangote, Africa’s richest man, Odoole Odua of Yoruba land, Chief Adebutu Kessington readily comes to mind; not forgetting also late Chief Moshood Kashimawo Abiola. There are numerous others too whom space will not permit their roll call.

Permit me, however, to run through a number of good causes to which Otedola has identified with financially in the course of time which undoubtedly had underlined his true status as a philanthropist per excellence.        

In 2005, he instituted an N200 million scholarship for Lagos state undergraduates. In the same year, he donated N300 million for the completion of the National Ecumenical Centre in Abuja.

He at various time donated N100 million to the Lagos state College of Primary Education, N100 million to the Central Mosque, Ilorin (Kwara State), and N100 million to the University of Port Harcourt (River State).

He has committed to building and donating a faculty of engineering valued at N2 billion to the Augustine University in his hometown, Epe in Lagos State.

Recently, his intervention proved life-saving for the sick Christian Chukwu, former captain and coach of Super Eagles; and Peter Fregene, former international goalkeeper; Malek Fashek, celebrated Reggae artiste; Sadiq Daba and Victor Olaitan.

Philanthropy is a way of showing gratitude to God who blesses whom he chooses to bless.  And for those who have found it in their heart to commit to it for the rest of their life like Otedola openly declared during the ball, they’re worthy of celebration and encouragement with the prudent application of these ginormous figures.

It would be a tragedy of monumental proportion to hear much later that those interventions are frittered away for personal purposes or diverted to other unrelated purposes. With Save The Children charity, we can only hope based on their track record that the fund would be judiciously used for the purpose it is intended.

And by the time account of stewardship is rendered if indeed it would, the life of Internally Displaced People in the North-east of Nigeria would’ve been positively affected to the glory of God and the donors. 

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