Femi Otedola Biography: Early life, education, business, career and net worth

net worth
net worth

Femi Otedola is a popular Nigerian businessman who is regarded as one of the richest men in the country. This biography about Otedola will provide facts about the billionaire that you previously did not know. We will provide the details in a chronological manner that makes it easy to follow.

Femi Otedola is not just a businessman as he is popular for his many philanthropic activities as we will reveal in this biography. Also, you will learn about the source of his wealth. To provide concise answers to questions about Otedola, see the summary of the top facts about him.

10 important facts about Femi Otedola

  1. Femi Otedola was born on 4th November 1962 in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State. His father was Michael Otedola, a former governor of Lagos State.
  2. He obtained his first degree from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Osun State.
  3. Otedola has always had a flair for business and he was making money when he was six by offering pedicure and manicure services to guests at his parents’ house.
  4. His first official job was working as marketing personnel for his family business.
  5. Femi Otedola founded a finance, investments and trading company called CentreForce Ltd. He also created an insurance firm named Swift Insurance. Later, he ran SeaForce Shipping Company.
  6. He established a petroleum products marketing and distribution company known as Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd in 2003.
  7. Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd became the major distributor of diesel in Nigeria by 2005. Big corporations like Dangote Group, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Nigerian Breweries, MTN, Unilever, Nestle and Guinness were among its clients.
  8. He took over African Petroleum in 2007 and renamed it as Forte Oil in 2010.
  9. Femi Otedola entered the Forbes List for the first time in March 2009 and is estimated to worth $1.8 billion.
  10. He is married to Nana Otedola and has four children namely Tolani, Florence, Temi, and Fewa Otedola.

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Femi Otedola Biography: Early life and education

Femi Otedola was born on 4th November 1962 in Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State. While we do not know much about Femi Otedola’s mother except that she is fondly called Lady Doja. We found that his father was the late Sir Michael Otedola. Michael Otedola was the governor of Lagos State between 1992 and 1993, he died in 2014.

Femi Otedola was the second son in a family of four male children. He grew up in Lagos with his family and went to a seminary school for some time. The Nigerian billionaire had wanted to become a priest. However, he eventually left the seminary and went on to complete his early education at the University of Lagos staff school according to the Childhood Biography blog.

After obtaining his secondary school leaving certificate (SSCE), he gained admission into Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ife, Osun State. This was where he obtained his first degree in 1985. He started working after he graduated from university.

Femi Otedola Biography: Early career, companies and investments

The popular Nigerian businessman, whose name has been synonymous with wealth for a long time, reportedly started business as a child. According to one account online, Femi Otedola allegedly ran a small business when he was just six years old.

Femi Otedola Biography: early life, education, business, career and net worth

This early business involved him carrying out manicure and pedicure services for his parents’ guests. He had named the business FEMCO and he even issued out receipts to customers.

After he completed his university education in 1985, Otedola found work in the corporate world. His first job was working as marketing personnel for his family’s business. He reputedly worked for the family for many years until he decided to establish his own business.

In 1994, Femi Otedola founded a finance, investments and trading company called CentreForce Ltd. He also created an insurance firm named Swift Insurance. Later, he ran SeaForce Shipping Company. He leveraged on this company when he founded a petroleum company and he used it to acquire one of the largest cargo ships in Africa at the time. See the next section for more.

Femi Otedola Biography: Rise to wealth and fame

Zenon Petroleum and Gas (2003)

Femi Otedola made his first notable oil business move in 2003 when he found a void in the fuel retail market that he could fill. He successfully sourced sufficient funds to start, in 2003, a petroleum products marketing and distribution company known as Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd.

Slowly Zenon became a well-known fuel retail company and Otedola served as the chairman in those early days and later as president. In 2004, he poured NGN15 billion into acquiring storage depots in Ibafon, Apapa. Apapa is a popular Local Government Area in Lagos where many ports and terminals operate.

Some of the funds that Femi Otedola, while serving as chairman of Zenon, invested also went to developing storage depots and acquiring large vehicles. Thus, he bought four cargo vessels and a fleet of 100 DEF fuel-tanker trucks. This gave Zenon a total storage capacity of 147,000 metric tonnes in 2004.

Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd became a major distributor of diesel in Nigeria by 2005. Big corporations like Dangote Group, Cadbury, Coca-Cola, Nigerian Breweries, MTN, Unilever, Nestle and Guinness were among its clientele.

The company reportedly obtained a loan of NGN193.5 billion in 2007 from 10 banks in 2007. This loan was to aid the petroleum company in building a first-of-its-kind storage facility for premium motor spirit (PMS), popularly known as petrol or gasoline. Besides diesel and PMS, Zenon was also already controlling most of the market share in the kerosene industry.

Furthermore, Otedola’s Zenon also invested heavily in other companies. Zenon bought a stake of 28.7 per cent in African Petroleum Plc (AP), a large fuel marketing company. Also, Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd bought stakes in Nigerian banks like Zenith Bank and United Bank for Africa (UBA).

African Petroleum Plc (2007)

In December 2007, it was announced that Femi Otedola had personally used NGN40 billion to buy a 29.3 per cent stake in African Petroleum. That same year, he was appointed the chairman of African Petroleum. Subsequently, he combined his personal stake and that of Zenon, which took his share in the giant petroleum company to 55.3 per cent.

Femi Otedola Biography: early life, education, business, career and net worth
Otedola and his daughter, DJ Cuppy inside his private jet.

An investment intelligence company, Proshare, reported in 2008 that the merger between Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd and African Petroleum Plc (AP) made the latter’s stock reach a record high of NGN274.50 per share. Also, its market capitalisation grew from NGN36 billion to NGN216.5 billion, the firm reported.

Otedola announced that AP planned to upgrade its storage terminals located in Lagos, Kano and Port Harcourt in 2009. However, by the end of 2009, the company recorded a loss.

Forte Oil (2010)

Following the disastrous 2009 loss, Femi Otedola instigated a total restructuring of African Petroleum. The company’s name officially changed to Forte Oil and it became more tech-oriented with better corporate leadership. His efforts paid off as Forte Oil recorded a profit in 2012 and THISDAY newspaper reported that its stock price rose by 1,321 per cent per share by the end of 2013.

Also, in 2013, Otedola’s Forte Oil owned 57% of Amperion Ltd, a company that bought the 414 MW Geregu Power Plant for $132 million. The billionaire had made the move because the Federal Government of Nigeria was aiming to open the country’s power sector to investors.

In September 2015, Mercuria Energy Group, a Swiss commodity trader bought 17 per cent stake in Forte Oil in a deal that is alleged to have given Otedola himself about $200 million. Eventually, in 2019, Femi Otedola sold Forte Oil Plc and revealed that he planned to completely focus on the power sector through Geregu Power Plc. Forte Oil is now rebranded as Adrova PLC,

Thus, by the end of 2019, Femi Otedola was officially out of the oil business. Let us look at other investments that Otedola made in the Nigerian business scene and his role in the government as well.

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Femi Otedola Biography: Government appointments and investments

Government appointments

Otedola has been a member of the Nigerian Investment Promotion Council (NIPC) since 2004. The government also appointed him to a committee that oversaw commercial relations with South Africa.

In 2006, the president of Nigeria at the time, Olusegun Obasanjo, appointed Femi Otedola as a non-executive director of Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc. This is a multi-sectoral conglomerate that Obasanjo had established in 2004. Otedola’s role was to make heavy capital investments in market opportunities in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa. He left the position in 2011.

Femi Otedola Biography: early life, education, business, career and net worth

In 2007, he was appointed the chairman of Transcorp Hilton Hotel in Abuja. His job was to expand it and upgrade the hotel to a seven-star facility.

Otedola appeared to have a good relationship with People’s Democratic Party (PDP), especially with President Olusegun Obasanjo and he was alleged to have contributed NGN100 million towards Obasanjo’s 2003 re-election.

Femi Otedola was also said to be an ally of former President Goodluck Jonathan and he was appointed to Nigeria’s National Economic Management Team in 2011.

Other investments

The shrewd businessman and former oil tycoon also made several real estate investments as well. One of the most notable ones was the NGN2.3 billion acquisition he made of Stallion House in Victoria Island in Lagos, from the Federal Government in 2007 under the name of Zenon.

Otedola also owns FO Properties Ltd, a company that deals in real estate.

Femi Otedola Biography: Personal life and lifestyle

Femi Otedola is married to Nana Otedola. Nana Otedola is one of the most popular society women in Nigeria. She is well regarded because of her wealth, high-class of living and fashion sense. Femi and Nana Otedola have three children together, although the billionaire has another daughter named Tolani.

Femi Otedola Biography: early life, education, business, career and net worth
Otedola and his family.

Femi Otedola had his first daughter before he married Nana, according to PM News Nigeria. Her name is Tolani Otedola. She is a singer with several music credits to her name.

Femi Otedola also has another daughter who is a popular DJ and singer, her name is Florence Otedola and she uses the stage name, DJ Cuppy.

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Temi Otedola is the billionaire’s third daughter and she is a style blogger, aspiring designer and an actress. Temi made her acting debut in Kunle Afolaya’s Citation. The film’s release has been delayed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Femi Otedola’s son is Fewa Otedola and he is the last child in the family. He is autistic.


The Otedola family lives the true billionaire’s life. They take expensive trips and go on vacations to European cities. In September 2020, Femi Otedola bought three brand new 2020 model Ferraris for his three daughters. The cars were said to be worth NGN86 million each as of when he purchased them.

For further reading, see: Reactions as Femi Otedola splashes hundreds of millions on Ferrari for daughters

He owns many exotic mansions and homes in Lagos, Abuja, Dubai, London, New York City, and many other locations around the world.

Femi Otedola Biography: Philanthropy

Besides being popular for his wealth and wide range of properties, Femi Otedola is also popular for giving to the poor. This is why philanthropy is one of the attributes that people ascribe to him. On 10th November 2019, Otedola donated NGN5 billion to Cuppy Save Children Foundation, a foundation scheme that his daughter Florence Otedola founded.

The business tycoon donated $25,000 to the Super Eagles in the match against Algeria in the 2019 AFCON.

To further interest in agriculture in Nigeria, Otedola committed NGN80 million to the Faculty of Agriculture at the University of Port Harcourt in 2008. He donated NGN200 million to Lagos State Security Trust Fund in 2007 to reduce crime.

Otedola started the Michael Otedola University Scholarship Scheme in 1985, it was established to give underprivileged students in Lagos State access to higher education. Since then, he has been donating funds to the scheme. Notably, in 2005, Zenon donated N200 million to the scheme’s fund and it has benefited more than 1,000 students.

In 2005, the billionaire contributed NGN300 million to building the National Ecumenical Centre, a Christian worship place in Abuja. Femi Otedola founded Otedola College of Primary Education in Epe, Lagos State. He also donated NGN100 million to the school in 2005.

In March 2020, Femi Otedola announced that he would be donating NGN1 billion to the Federal Government’s effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria.


Femi Otedola Biography: Controversies

One of the few times that Femi Otedola was caught up in controversy had to do with bribery and corruption. It happened in 2012 when Zenon Petroleum and Gas Ltd was named among a group of other companies involved in fuel subsidy scam. An ‘Integrity Group’ under the House Committee on Fuel Subsidy Regime had published the list.

According to reports, Zenon owed the Federal Government a sum of about $1.4 million. Thus, the business heavyweight was charged with trying to bribe the committee chairman, Farouk Lawan and another member, Boniface Emenalo, to remove his company’s name from the list.

Initially, all parties involved denied any wrongdoing. However, Boniface Emenalo eventually admitted guilt and also mentioned that he had collected bribes for Farouk Lawan as well. Furthermore, video evidence emerged of Lawan accepting a bribe from Otedola.

More recently, in 2016, Femi Otedola was part of another scandal. This time, two sisters, Jyoti and Kiran Matharoo, based in Toronto, were alleged to have tried to blackmail and extort the billionaire. The matter became public after the sisters were arrested according to an international report in Lagos.

According to some accounts, they had claimed to have evidence of the billionaire cheating on his wife and demanded payment or they would post it on the internet. However, the sisters claimed that they never threatened or blackmailed him.

Instead, Jyoti claimed that she had met Otedola when she completed university in 2008 and that he had brought her and her sister to Nigeria where he started an affair with her. Additionally, the sisters said they were engaged to many other wealthy men who gave them all sorts of gifts. The matter eventually died a natural death.

Femi Otedola Biography: Net worth

The name ‘Femi Otedola’ symbolises wealth in Nigeria and it is commonly mentioned in Nigerian mainstream songs. In fact, Nigerian singer and rapper Shasha Damilola Alesh, better known by his stage name Dice Ailes, has a 2017 song titled Otedola.

In March 2009, Otedola became the second Nigerian, after Aliko Dangote, to appear on the Forbes billionaires’ list. It was the first time the oil businessman appeared on the list and was estimated to have a net worth of $1.2 billion. However, by the end of the year, his investments in African Petroleum slumped and he was pulled from the list.

It took him another five years to return to the list, and in November 2014, Femi Otedola reappeared on the Forbes billionaires’ list. He dropped off the list in 2016 and 2017 according to Forbes’ profile of him. As at that time of writing this article in October 2020, Femi Otedola is worth $1.8 billion on the Forbes’ list.


Final thoughts…

Femi Otedola is one of the richest men in Nigeria. He is third only to Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa and Mike Adenuga, the owner of Globacom Telecommunications.

He is well-known for his visionary investments that usually yield massive returns. When money is in the discussion, Otedola’s name is among the first names that people mention.

While he worked hard for his money, he is also a well-connected man. He also lives a fully luxurious life that only his type of wealth can afford. Otedola is one of Nigeria’s most important people and despite not being actively involved in politics, politicians appoint him to run some of the nation’s financial dealings.

His philanthropy is also a big part of his life and legacy. Additionally, he is a loving family man and shares his time with his wife and children.

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About The Author


Obinna is a fiction writer from Lagos, Nigeria, and grew up loving comic book characters and superheroes. He watches lots of action films and writes entertainment and technology articles. He is also interested in science and how things work.

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