For nearly five decades, Nigerian industrialist, Dr. Ayoola Obafoluke Otudeko has emerged a titan of local boardrooms. As one of Nigeria’s toughest and most skillful board monitors, the man fondly called ‘Oba Otudeko’ has turned a boardroom battle axe most corporations prefer to have in their corner as his rigour and resilience make him a gem of special value. As one of Nigeria’s most influential and richest men, Otudeko’s success has not been limited to entrepreneurship. He has put his extensive experience into the tough art of investing, garnering a gritty reputation for his prolific capital market plays. Though he started out in the banking sector, he is now a notable personality in the manufacturing sector, creating thousands of jobs along the value chain and improving local production for the country through his Honeywell Group, one of Nigeria’s leading indigenous conglomerates with interest in foods & agro-allied; real estate, infrastructure, energy and services, telecommunications and banking.
Otudeko became the 16th president and chairman of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) and has sat on several boards of blue-chip companies and strategic national institutions, including the Central Bank of Nigeria, Guinness Nigeria Plc, British American Tobacco Ltd, First Bank of Nigeria Plc (where he was also chairman), Fan Milk Nigeria (chairman), and Ecobank Transnational Incorporated. He also currently chairs the boards of FBN Holdings Plc and Honeywell Flour Mills Plc. For a man that has shined a torch for others to follow and built a repertoire of business moves that provide compelling guidance for a new generation of managers and directors with fresh dreams, new visions and evolving perspectives, many always look forward to opportunities to celebrate such individuals in return. Thus, it wasn’t a surprise when on Monday, August 18, this business mogul —whose close friends sometimes jokingly refer to as “the only Oba without a palace”— turned 77, and his circle of high net worth friends, associates and army of protégés, hysterically eulogized him on his birthday.