Wednesday was a day of honour for late Sir Michael Otedola, former governor of Lagos State and father of business mogul, Femi Otedola, as the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, was joined by his predecessors and other prominent Nigerians to pay tribute to him at the Onikan Stadium, Lagos.
With the theme: ‘Day of Tributes’, the event was organised by the Lagos State Government and had former governors like Alhaji Lateef Jakande, Commodore Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who was represented by former Deputy Governor, Prince Abiodun Ogunleye, former Deputy Governor, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu, renowned industrialist, Chief Adekunle Ojora, among numerous other prominent Nigerians.
Others at the event include former Military administrator, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, the Senator representing Lagos East Senatorial District, Senator Gbenga Ashafa, members of the State Executive Council, Commissioner for Home Affairs, Hon. Oyinlomo Danmole and children of the deceased, Pastor (Ms) Mosunmola Otedola and Mr Femi Otedola among others.
In his tribute, Governor Fashola described Sir Otedola as a real political genius and a man of deep conviction for leaving his private business in 1991 to contest an election where the odds were visibly stacked against him.
Governor Fashola, who noted that Sir Otedola contested against “those who mattered in Lagos politics” then, pointed out that beyond his physical contributions after being elected, the idea behind the late governor’s foray into politics postulates that nothing is impossible.
“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, that convictions and hard work can make dreams possible,” Fashola said.
“Since his election, the ascension to the exalted office of Governor by election has produced results that have made the most ardent pundits very cautious about making predictions. That is one legacy of Governor Otedola that will not die.
“It is a lesson for old and young people that nothing can be considered impossible or lost until a genuine attempt has been made to achieve it.
“It was an audacious endeavour that has achieved folklore status about how the politically impossible became possible. I t has become an inspirational reference that will endure.”
The governor noted that another legacy bequeathed to the governance of the State by Otedola was the pursuit of excellence, recalling that when he was called upon to choose a sobriquet for Lagos State for use on vehicle registration plates, the former governor chose “Centre of Excellence.”
“As one of his successors I have found the decision very inspiring in my work. Standards of excellence are high, they are difficult to attain and they are constantly changing. Every governor of Lagos, who remembers that Lagos is the centre of excellence, will never lie at ease because in the race for excellence, there is no finish line,” Fashola said.
“In this sense, Governor Otedola has set Lagos on a course and a race of an unending quest for improvement, innovation and development, if she must remain the centre of excellence.”
Fashola said the people of Lagos remain inspired and grateful for the ideas, as the state celebrates the life and times of a great man, and more importantly his service to his people, borne out of deep conviction, and executed with grace and without blemish.
Describing the former governor as a simple man who did great things for his people, his community and his State, Fashola expressed the hope that the event would help inspire more good men and women to serve in the public sphere, in the selfless manner that the nation and people deeply yearn for, adding that the greatness of Otedola lies in the simple way he did extraordinary things.
He thanked the widow of the late former governor, Lady Doja Otedola, for allowing the state to play a role in the funeral rites of her husband, adding that a funeral is first and foremost a family and personal affair but that in the journey of life, men and women renounce their personal space to undertake the noble calling of public service and that when this happens, it changes many things, not only during their life time but also in death.
Fashola announced the offer of N1 billion donation by one of the sons of the deceased, Mr. Femi Otedola, towards funding scholarship education in the state, saying the state government would work with him and the Otedola Scholarship Foundation to develop modalities that would ensure that the fund achieves its purpose in a transparent manner.
In his tribute, former Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, through Prince Abiodun Ogunleye, acknowledged the role played by Otedola in the promotion of the well being of the people of Lagos whom he served meritoriously as governor from January 1992 to November 1993.
Tinubu added that the tenure of Sir Otedola witnessed enough progress to prove that he was a leader of high quality and principle who brought stability to Lagos State and maturity to politics.
He added that Lagos shall never forget him, his philanthropy and humanity which he described as “almost legendary,” just as his devotion to God was unwavering.
“He shall forever be a standard that everyone should emulate,” Tinubu said.
Also in her tribute, a former Deputy to Sir Michael Otedola, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu, said with the former Governor’s wisdom and calmness, Lagos was at peace during his period as governor just as his legacy to the state was immeasurable.
Ojikutu said within the very short period that Sir Otedola served; his impact was felt in several areas like education, transportation, health and infrastructure adding that he excelled in everything he did.
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