The deceased, who is the father of Chairman of Forte Oil Plc and Founder of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limited, Mr. Femi Otedola, died at his private residence in Epe in Lagos State.
Otedola, who was born on July 16, 1926 into a Muslim family at Odoragunsin in Epe Local Government Area of Lagos State, would have celebrated his 88th birthday on July 16.
His death has thrown the state governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN); former Lagos State Governor, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; Ogun State Governor, Ibikun Amosun; and former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, among others into mourning.
At a session with State House correspondents yesterday, Fashola mourned the late governor, who governed the state between January 1992 and November 1993.
The governor, who had earlier at a state event called for a minute’s silence to be observed in his memory, also directed that all flags in the state should fly at half mast for seven days in honour of the late Otedola’s service to the state.
Fashola said he knew Otedola long before he was the state governor, acknowledging that he had spent most of his time battling health challenges since he became governor of Lagos in 2007.
According to him, “I knew him long before he was governor of the state. In the period that I have been governor, he has suffered some difficult health issues arising from age.”
He said the former governor left an indelible record behind when he was in charge of the state, adding that his indelible record of service “are still there”.
“The Centre for Excellence, we proudly proclaim today, was his choice when he was invited among other governors to choose a sobriquet for Lagos. That will remain evergreen in our memory,” Fashola said.
He reeled some of Otedola’s landmark achievements to include the Abraham Adesanya Housing Estate, which he said, was one of the housing estates he started, though could not complete because of the military intervention in November 1993.
He said the contributions he made to the development of the state “are appropriately documented. The state government at this time sympathises and condoles with members of his family, especially his wife, Lady Doja Otedola, and his children who are my childhood friends. I wish the deceased peaceful repose and external rest”.
In his tribute, Tinubu described Otedola’s death as painful and sorrowful, stating that the news of his passing came to him while he was out of the country.
“Though 87 years old, his passing away is still a big loss. I pray that God will comfort his family and stand by them. They must be comforted in the knowledge that Baba played his part well and the rest is now left to all of us,” he said.
Amosun also expressed his condolences to the government and people of Lagos State on the death of the former civilian governor of the state.
In a statement issued by his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Wakama, the Ogun State governor recalled the victory of the former governor when he was elected on the platform of the National Republican Convention (NRC) between 1992 and 1993 and described him as “a fulfilled politician and an accomplished technocrat”.
“Baba contributed his bit to the development of Lagos State as governor between 1992 and 1993 before that democratic dispensation was truncated by the then military junta,” he said.
Former Anambra State Governor also described the late Otedola’s death as yet another glorious transition, because, according to him, Otedola gave his best in the service of the country through his selfless services to Lagos State and thus died a happy and fulfilled man.
Recalling his exploits, Obi said Otedola had approached governance with a sober mind always realising that governance was an opportunity to serve God by faithfully serving humanity.
“He was another proof that governance was nothing if not a dedication to humanity and the urge to be just in the exercise of power and perquisites of office,” Obi said.
He prayed to God to grant repose to his soul, and to his immediate family, Lagos State and all those affected by his death, the courage to accept the will of God.
In a condolence message, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, representing Lagos East Senatorial District, expressed shock over the death of the late governor, who he said made a meaningful impact during the short period he governed the state.
The lawmaker said the late governor served the state creditably, with diligence and utter commitment for the period he administered the state.
He described him as a true legend whose impact would be greatly felt by his immediate family, Epe people, Lagos East Senatorial District and Lagos State in general.
Also at a plenary yesterday, the Lagos State House of Assembly commiserated with the family of the deceased. Speaker of the assembly Adeyemi Ikuforiji described Otedola’s demise as a great loss to all residents of the state, especially the people of Epe.
According to him, “We will miss his fatherly advice now that we are approaching the election period. He was a rare gem and his loss is irreplaceable. We all pray God will give the family the fortitude to bear the loss.”
In his remarks, Chairman, House Committee on Information, Strategy, Security and Publicity representing Epe Constituency II, Hon. Segun Olulade, also condoled with the family of the deceased.
Olulade said the Epe-born media guru, politician, industrialist and statesman played a significant role in the establishment of the Epe campus of the Yaba College of Technology, among other achievements he recorded during his botched administration.
“Sir Otedola was the Information Officer in the Western Nigeria government and a fine public relations personnel. As his name implies, fate played a critical role in his ascension to greatness and the entire people of Epe have lost one of their illustrious sons,” he said