Billionaire businessman and Forte Oil chairman, Femi Otedola, at the public presentation of Bashorun Dele Momodu’s books, on Wednesday, July 11, 2018, at NIIA, Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, regaled the audience with the story of his encounters with Chief M. K. O. Abiola. Enjoy…
‘Permit me to stand on existing protocols
I must congratulate my dear brother, Chief Dele Momodu, on this triple book launch. Writing a page is a tough task and I can only imagine the complexity associated with writing a weekly column which has now been compiled into two volumes particularly when you have to combine that with running for the office of President of Nigeria, travelling constantly and running varied business interests.
He has also put me in very difficult position because talking about Chief M. K. O. Abiola is like talking about the proverbial elephant in the midst of blind people. He can only be described in parts and I shall attempt to do my bit in this very short speech.
My first memory of Chief Abiola was around 1971, about 47 years ago, as a pupil of the University of Lagos Staff School where his first son, Kola was my classmate. A dutiful father, he picked up his children from school regularly.
His first wife, the late Alhaja Simbiat Abiola was also my mother’s close friend.
Fast-forward to 1990 as a young entrepreneur I had a taste of Chief Abiola’s magnanimity and kindness. I developed the idea for an Awolowo Memorial Concert which I shared with my good friend and Papa Awolowo’s grandson, Segun who went to see Chief Abiola on our intention to have him as the Chairman of the event and despite his political difference with Pa Awolowo in his lifetime, he not only showed up but arrived with his late wife, Alhaja Simbiat Abiola and they danced to the various artistes especially Sir Shina Peters.
The highlight for Segun and I was the NGN100,000 cheque he gave us at the event. A huge amount back then and we admired it all the way to the bank.
While seeing them off, he took me aside, shook my hand in commendation and called me a Great Man.
In 1991, I sold the idea to run for the Governorship of Lagos State to my late father, Sir Michael Otedola and he dismissed it saying politics is not for “omoluabis” and he also made a reference to the travails of Chief Abiola with the NPN leading to his much-publicized retirement from politics…’