Obafunke Otudeko’s name remains on record as one of the first businessmen in his generation to lead the path many are benefiting from today. Even while most of his age mates were still bogged down by morbid fear of failure, the Ijebu Igbo-born businessman ventured into business. Today, he can thump his chest for this singular act.
He is a man born under the proverbial lucky star; it is also clear that he is endowed with the proverbial Midas touch. According to Forbes, the chairman of Honeywell Group joined the business world at a very tender age; at a time, he was named the 46th Africa’s richest man. Given his status, Otudeko, who also has choice properties in some highbrow areas of Lagos and other cities worldwide, commands a lot of respect among his friends and associates.
He has always made a success of all his ventures. He is a boardroom warrior who has fought many wars and won in the boardroom. He is currently fighting the biggest fight of his career as he is about to lose what he has laboured for many years to build.
The serial entrepreneur is reportedly battling with a myriad of troubles now. His headache is not unconnected with his sacking alongside others from the board of First Bank of Nigeria Holdings by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. As if that was not enough, the Central Bank of Nigeria directed Honeywell Flour Mills, owned by Otudeko, to repay a loan to First Bank within 48 hours. According to the letter by the apex bank, the company (Honeywell Flour Mills) is required to fully repay its obligations to the bank within 48 hours, failing which the CBN will take appropriate regulatory measures against the insider borrower and the bank.”
Insider lending is when a bank makes a loan to one or more of its officers or directors. Otudeko served as the chairman of FBN Holdings PLC, the holding company that owns First Bank, until the penultimate week’s restructuring. He had also served as Chairman of First Bank until 2010.
He stands the risk of losing his shareholding in FBN Holdco if he fails to offset the loan within the deadline given by the CBN.
The apex bank is upset with First Bank for non-compliance with regulatory directives to divest its interest in Honeywell Flour Mills, despite several reminders. Meanwhile, as a man who will never go down so easy, his firm, Honeywell, countered CBN’s statement to the public, claiming that it has always serviced its loan accordingly. Nevertheless, industry watchers are following the saga with keen interest, wondering how the boardroom guru will survive all this.