Lagos – Gov. Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Wednesday said that business mogul, Mr Femi Otedola, had pledged to make a contribution of N1billion toward funding scholarships in the state.
Fashola announced the pledge at a programme organised by the state government to honour the business mogul’s father, the late Sir Michael Otedola, a former governor of the state.
The programme, “Day of Tributes for Otedola,“ was attended by prominent personalities, friends and members of the Otedola family.
Some of the personalities present at the programme include another former governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, former governor of Osun State, retired Brig-Gen Olagunsoye Oyinlola and businessman Aliko Dangote .
Members of the Lagos State Executive Council and prominent community leaders from Odoragunshi, the deceased’s hometown, were also present at the occasion.
Fashola said that Otedola would disburse the funds through The Otedola Foundation and it would be mainly deployed to provide scholarships for indigent students.
The governor said the state government would work closely with the foundation to ensure the funds were utilised strictly for the purpose it was meant for.
“Femi Otedola, the son of late Otedola, has requested me to announce that he will be making a contribution of N1billion toward funding scholarships in the state.
“I have told him that our government will work with him and the Otedola Foundation to develop the modalities to ensure that that the funds achieve its purpose in a most transparent and sustainable manner “he said.
Fashola described the late Otedola as a great leader who did so much to promote the interest of the state and its people.
The governor said the strong convictions of the former governor, even in the face of uncertainties, made him even more remarkable.
He said the ideological message that the late Otedola sent by leaving his private business to contest the governorship election where the odds were stacked against him, meant he was a genius.
“In my view, it is the idea behind his foray into politics that endures beyond his physical contributions.
“An idea that every generation must borrow from. The idea that nothing is impossible and that convictions and hard work can make dreams possible.
“That is one legacy of late Gov. Otedola that will not die. It is a lesson for both the old and young that nothing can be considered impossible or lost until genuine attempts have been made to achieve it,“ he said.
Fashola described the late Otedola as a model of excellence, saying his choice of the sobriquet “Centre of Excellence “for the state when he was governor reflected his hunger for excellence.
The governor said that the programme was organised to celebrate the achievements of the late Otedola, with a view to drawing inspiration to further move the state forward.
Fashola thanked the widow of the deceased, Lady Doja, and other members of the family for allowing the state government to be a part of what ordinarily should be a family funeral programme.
“`I must thank her and commend her grace for allowing us to play a role. I say this because a funeral is first and foremost a family and personal affair.
“But in life`s journey, men and women renounce their personal space to undertake a noble calling of public service; when this happens, it changes many things, not only during their lifetime, but also in death“ he said.
Sen. Bola Tinubu, another former governor of the state, described the late Otedola as a distinguished gentleman who served the state meritoriously.
Tinubu, who was represented by Mr Abiodun Ogunleye, a former deputy governor of the state, said his exemplary leadership would be sorely missed.
“We will miss him greatly. I thank God for his life and for his notable contributions to humanity.
“He was a distinguished gentleman. May his soul rest in peace,“ he said.
Another former governor, Alhaji Lateef Jakande, said that Otedola`s demise was a great loss, noting that his imperishable record of service will be remembered for a long time.
Simialrly, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, a business mogul, described the deceased as man of dignity who did much to touch the lives of Lagosians.
“His death is a great loss but we thank the Almighty for granting him useful years that were most beneficial to mankind. We shall continue to pray for the repose of his soul,’’ he said.
One of the late Otedola`s daughters, Mrs Lola Segun-Idaho, described her father as a good listener.
She said he was an epitome of care, discipline and integrity, noting that he never took what did not belong to him.
“My father was a man of integrity who would not take what did not belong to him. I remember when he was given two vehicles by the state government after he left office as governor.
“We told him: You are not using these vehicles, why don’t you give them out? But he declined, saying the vehicles belonged to the state and not him.
“The two vehicles, a jeep and a car are still parked in his compound in Epe. He was such an honest man“, she said.
Ms Julie Coker, a colleague of the late Otedola at Western Nigerian Television (WNTV), said he was a hardworking journalist who demonstrated excellence in all he did.
Coker said it was difficult to fill his position when Otedola left WNTV to work at Mobil Producing Nigeria Limited.
Alhaji Surajudeen Badru, speaking on behalf of the people of Odoragushin, Otedola`s hometown, said the former governor did much to uplift the people of his community.
He said the giving of scholarships to indigent students from the area and the construction of a College of Education were some of the good things he did in his hometown.
Badru said the decision of late Otedola to settle down in Epe immediately after leaving office until his death reflected the great love he had for the town and his people.
The community leader said Otedola would be missed by all the people in his community for his generosity and care for the needy.
NAN reports that Otedola, who governed Lagos from 1991 to 1992, died on May 5 at 88.
He will be buried on May 30 at his hometown in Epe.(NAN)