Otedola speaks on losing $480m in diesel market

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Femi Otedola, billionaire businessman, says he contemplated suicide when his investment in the diesel business failed in 2008.

He disclosed this at the 50th birthday celebration of Akin Akinfemiwa, chief executive officer (CEO), Geregu Power Plc, in London on Tuesday.

Speaking on how he met the celebrant and the role he played in his business, Otedola who is also the chairman of the energy firm, said his relationship with Akinfemiwa is a case of “destiny prevails”.

Otedola said 93 percent of the diesel business which he had at his fingertips, collapsed due to his playfulness.

He added that thoughts of his wife and kids halted the suicide moves.

“My relationship with Akin is what I would call destiny prevails. In 2005, I had a friend that worked in Oando and she did mention to me that she has a colleague. And she called Akin and we spoke,” he said.

“I set up my training company in London, FineShade Energy. I was looking for a trader and I couldn’t find any good trader. I called Dimeji Edwards who was Akin’s boss. Akin picked up the phone to come and see me.

“So he came, and I said to him, ‘listen I want to give you a job’. Come and work for me. Then of course he went back to Wale and Mofe who were his bosses then (at Oando). And they said you want to go and work for that man? That has sacked six CEOs in 6 years.

“Now when I say destiny prevails, the business collapsed. I built a massive empire. I had 93 percent of diesel at my fingertips. I was a bit playful, and the business collapsed.”

Otedola said rather than commit suicide, he decided to sack himself from the business.

“The option I had then was to commit suicide. Then, of course, I thought of Nana and the kids. And I said no, I won’t commit suicide,” he said.

“I will face reality and sack myself and the business. So, I sacked myself. I made Akin the CEO of the London office, and I was so impressed by the way he turned around the business.

“I gave him 1 percent of the business. I later made him the CEO of Zenon oil, and then the CEO of African Petroleum which I later changed to Forte Oil.

“When I was making that decision, I knew I have tried, I have failed, so it’s not my destiny. I can’t fall in business because I am an entrepreneur. I can make money but I have to give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and I found that in Akin.”

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