In Landmark Gesture, Otedola Donates N5bn to Save Displaced North-east Children

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FEMI OTEDOLA
  • Says: “We all need to reach out and comfort the sick”
  • Osinbajo: It’s the single largest donation to philanthropy in the country

Olawale Ajimotokan and Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja

Executive Chairman, Geregu Power Plc, Mr Femi Otedola, left many Nigerians speechless last night with a hefty donation of N5billion to Save the Children, 100-year old United Kingdom-based charity, which is the biggest children-focused organisation in the world after UNICEF.

The donation, routed through Cuppy Foundation, founded by his daughter, Florence, is, according to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, “the single largest donation to philanthropy in the country.”

The fund, according to Tolani, the eldest daughter of Otedola, who presented the cheque to the CEO of Save the Children, Mr. Kevin Watkins, is to be used to rehabilitate displaced and underprivileged children of insurgency-ravaged Borno and Adamawa States as well as Katsina State that has been under siege by armed bandits recently.  

Otedola’s friend, also a noted philanthropist in the country, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, supported the foundation with N100million donation at the impressive Gala that was attended by several governors and other important dignitaries.

Dangote, who said there were about 50,000 orphans in Borno State, thanked Cuppy for having the big heart and for visiting the less privileged children in Maiduguri, the state capital.

He also appealed to the public to always give back rather than wait for government’s magnanimity.

Speaking at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja venue of the event, Otedola said he had decided to devote the rest of his life to philanthropy because of what God had done in his life.

“God has been so kind, the only way I can show my gratitude to Him is to use my resources to support those who are underprivileged. This I intend to do for the rest of my life,” he said at the event.

“In a world full of conflicts, diseases, calamities and inequality, we all need to show the milk of human kindness, to reach out and comfort the sick and give a helping hand to the weak.”

Florence, widely known as DJ Cuppy, is a board ambassador for Save the Children and a member of the organisation’s Africa Advisory Board.

In her remarks, she said it was an emotional night for her to see people from all over the world attend the inaugural gala night.

Florence said: “I stand before you with a big vision for our country and the less privileged.  I founded the Cuppy Foundation to give to the less privileged in our society and for people living with disability.

“The idea for this Gala came two months ago, when I visited Maiduguri, Borno State and met a sick girl that urgently needed blood transfusion. There were many unfortunate children like that. Some were even unlucky and they died.

“The experience was shocking for me. My heart broke. Ever since, my determination to serve the Nigerian children has been ingrained.  I need help from you to help me in fulfilling my calling, not just as a DJ, but as a philanthropist.”

The event was designed to focus on conversations based around some of Save the Children’s initiatives such as bettering the lives of children in Nigeria who are in conflict and also tackling malnutrition.

The gala featured various segments including, a stage performance, an auction packed with unique items, a cocktail reception and finally a private dinner with special performances.

“This is just a start in driving awareness and creating change for our precious Nigerian Children. Save the Children believes children are our future – they are, and the future is now,” DJ stated in her remarks.

Otedola, a well-regarded philanthropist, and perhaps the richest person in the South-west part of the country has in the past donated to good causes.

In 2005, he instituted a N200 million scholarship for Lagos State undergraduates, same year he donated N300 million for the completion of the National Ecumenical Centre in Abuja.

He, at various times, donated N100 million to the Lagos State College of Primary Education, N100 million to the Central Mosque, Ilorin (Kwara State), and N100 million to the University of Port Harcourt (Rivers State).

He has committed to building and donating a faculty of engineering valued at N2 billion to the Augustine University in his hometown, Epe, Lagos State.

Recently, he made life-saving interventions by footing the medical bills of Christian Chukwu, former captain and coach of Super Eagles; Peter Fregene, former international goalkeeper; Majek Fashek, celebrated Reggae artiste; as well as Sadiq Daba and Victor Olaotan, veteran actors.

The Cuppy Foundation aims to tackle issues surrounding young females, education for girls and persons with disabilities (minorities).

It was born, according to DJ Cuppy, out of a passion deep within her to give individuals, who have been forgotten and relegated to the background of society, a chance at building the life they desire, a chance that every individual on earth deserves.

Save the Children was established in the United Kingdom in 1919 in order to improve the lives of children through better education, health care, and economic opportunities, as well as providing emergency aid in natural disasters, war, and other conflicts. The organisation operates in over 120 countries around the World, and is working in Nigeria because one in five children in Nigeria dies before their fifth birthday. About 40 per cent of children miss out on school and have to work to survive while nearly two million children have lost one or both parents to an AIDS-related disease.

Its CEO, Watkins, lauded the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of Cuppy.

Watkins said DJ Cuppy’s drive is an inspiration as it was geared in making things work for children in a dynamic and beautiful way in a country where many children were dying of diseases.

“I appeal to you all to do whatever you can to let us work together and let her achieve her dream for Nigeria by saving children,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Osinbajo said Otedola’s donation to Save the Children was the largest donation to charity in Nigeria today.

He said that no one would ever remember the number of houses, or cash that one has, but the impact one made, adding that the likes of Bill Gate, Dangote and now Femi Otedola, understood that and that was why they turned their wealth and resources to help people and solve huge problems.

Osinbajo stressed that they have used their foundations to bring hope to millions of vulnerable people through their philanthropic gestures.

“We don’t need billionaires or millionaires to start doing something,” he said, adding: “The likes of DJ Cuppy, who are already doing something that affects lives is a good example.”

Osinbajo commended Otedola for donating the huge amount, calling it the single largest donation to philanthropy in the country.

He said by the gesture the business mogul had further demonstrated his commitment to the poor and less privileged in the society, stating that North-east needed help.

He also thanked DJ Cuppy for spearheading the initiative, saying she was making impact in a very important way.

Dignitaries at the event included, President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, who was represented by Senator Gabriel Suswan; former Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki; National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole;  Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum; former military administrator of Lagos State, Bri-Gen. Buba Marwa; Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun; and Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.

Others were Minister of Trade and Investments, Chief Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Pallen Tallen; and businesswoman, Mrs. Bola Shagaya.