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How FEMI OTEDOLA & ALIKO Became Best Friends

•The Story Of Their Over 25 Years of Friendship

Theirs was a friendship made in heaven. The 2 Lagos billionaires, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola are extremely close and this is very obvious. You need not look further, their many business relationship and social lifestyle have further cemented their friendship which has been on for over 25 years.

Year in, year out, both of them always celebrate each other, be it their personal event or business. They also attend events together and have been known to always have each other’s back. Hardly will you see Aliko at any function and Femi Otedola will not be there. They have also taken this friendship beyond their individual self, it has been extended to the Family that they are both involved in each other’s family lives. Outside all this, the duo are also fond of taking business trips, vacations and other event tours together. They have been seen in quite a number of countries together in recent times.

Their close friendship was further shown openly recently when Femi Otedola hosted a classy 90th birthday in honour of his mum, Mama Otedola in Epe, Lagos. Aliko Dangote was the first caller at their Epe home. In fact, we gathered he flew in very early in the morning in his private jet. He was well-received by Femi’s Mum that in a viral video, mama was asking where is Aliko? while attending to other Femi’s friends when he did not see him on time. Not only did Aliko stay all day with his friend all through the event, but he also stood right beside him and gave him the maximum support he needed. Just a few days ago, when Aliko celebrated his birthday, his friend, Femi celebrated him with a touching tribute, On his official Instagram page on Wednesday, the business tycoon affectionately described Dangote as his “brother” and the “greatest man that has come out of Africa”.

Listing his business achievements, Otedola said Dangote is a “titan that God created especially for mankind”.

“Happy birthday to the greatest man that has come out of Africa. My brother, the Visionary, owner of the 2nd largest sugar refinery in the world, the largest cement factory in the world, one of the largest flour mills in the world, the 2nd largest fertiliser plant in the world that is due for completion, and the biggest oil refinery in the world. Aliko Dangote is a titan that God created especially for mankind. You have broken every boundary in worldwide business and industry. Thanks for the brotherly love,” the post read.

Also, a few weeks back, when Aliko Dangote launched his new refinery in Lekki, his friend, Femi Otedola described the Dangote refinery as a remarkable project which will be a game-changer for the country. Otedola who spoke with so much excitement after the commissioning of the refinery in Ibeju-Lekki, Lagos, expressed how enthused he was, seeing a project that began as far back as 2012, come to fruition.

His words, “This is a remarkable project. I’m excited today. Today is the happiest moment in my life to see this project come to reality. This is a project I’ve been visiting with Aliko since 2012. He added that refining crude oil locally is what Nigeria needs at the moment as this would drastically reduce the prices of petroleum products.

According to him, the journey towards the construction of the refinery began in 2007 when he and his friend, Aliko Dangote, “formed a consortium called Blue Star, to acquire the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries which for whatever reasons, was scuttled; the takeover was scuttled and Aliko said he was going to build his refinery. My take is, that God has to use someone to do things like this. I’m not God chosen today but Aliko has done it with the special grace of God. This project will be a game-changer for Nigeria. This project gives me hope that Nigeria is on the path to achieve greatness, once we sort out our little, little issues- security, etc.”

His statement shows they really support each other in whatever they do. Let's also quickly tell you that when Aliko lost his younger brother a few months back, Femi Otedola was the first caller at his house in Kano where he also stood by his friend during the grief period. This was some of their many deeds together which shows their closeness.

Dangote and Otedola control businesses with similar holdings in oil, energy, construction, real estate, and agriculture. To those who don’t know about their business-oriented relationship, it is surprising that Dangote can spearhead an integrated refinery complex worth $18 billion, the first of its kind in Nigeria, without a business backbone.

Otedola is renowned for his unwavering respect for the older man, Dangote. The latter also celebrates Otedola’s successes and offers unlimited mentorship and guidance for business. It’s amazing to see tycoons who’ve plunged their feet deep into Nigeria’s lucrative sectors, sipping tea together and celebrating each other’s achievements. This is the ideal friendship goal—billionaires who share a strong bond despite a remarkable 6-year age difference.

The billionaire duo is notable for combining forces whenever they wish to stage a major national surprise: whether it is hosting boxing legends, attending award nights, financially supporting Nigeria’s Super Eagles, or planning getaway trips to chill. Their friendship sets the stage for budding entrepreneurs to see how businesses can thrive better on friendships and not necessarily stiff competition.

No true friendship that doesn’t have its own hiccups, sure this duo has gone through their own hiccups but the ability to wave through it made them stronger. Without mincing words, not a few people had wondered if the closeness once fostered between Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote and his friend, Femi Otedola, by mutual economic interests would ever be resuscitated again. This expressed fear was certainly not unfounded when placed against the volatile bitterness displayed by these billionaires some years ago as a result of sharp differences between them over the acquisition of Chevron Texaco’s downstream business.

The ember of discord between them consumed huge resources from both ends while the fifth columnists fed fat on the acrimony that almost literally brought the Nigerian economy to its knees, being that they are two key players in the nation’s business community.

Ever since a truce was brokered between these influential businessmen by the Chairman/Editor-in-Chief of Thisday, Nduka Obaigbena, many felt that they are not as close as they were before the feud thus sparking speculations that the peace meeting might not have effect after all. But the insinuations have since been laid to rest as both men started on a clean slate and came out stronger. Shortly after their feud, their first outing was the wedding ceremony of Ex-Governor of Edo State, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole in Auchi, Edo State a few years ago and many were happy to see them together.

No sooner had they grandly entered the venue that all eyes turned in their direction to register the rare moment. They sat together throughout the event talking to each other at intervals. This clearly showed that even in business, as in politics, there is no permanent friend or foe, just permanent interests. Otedola and Dangote have been known to be buddies in both the social and business senses and this friendship has spanned over 25 years. They both started life in Lagos which was where their path crossed. Ever since they met in the Surulere area in Lagos, they begin to share interest in business.

Dangote first moved to Lagos in January 1978. When he moved to Nigeria’s commercial capital, he lived with his uncle in Ikoyi for about eight months and moved to his own place in Surulere in September 1978 and that was where he met his many close friends till date whom Femi Otedola now became the closest to him amongst them all.

During his stay in Surulere, he opened his own office in Apapa in 1980. He lived in Surulere for about four years, leaving in 1982 for Victoria Island. The office he opened in 1980, is what laid the foundation for what is now a conglomerate with a group of companies in various fields such as cement, sugar, and most recently, flour. In 1987, Aliko Dangote bought a parcel of land in Victoria Island where he built his first house. He moved in there in 1990 and said it has been so incredible since then. It was shortly after this that Femi Otedola’s Dad became the Governor of Lagos which further solidified their friendship.


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