If he were livestock, financially impotent Obafoluke Otudeko, the disgraced former chairman of First Bank of Nigeria PLC, would probably be a peacock. Like the flightless bird, Otudeko is so stuck up on ego that he may have begun to over-estimate his own worth. A self-acclaimed billionaire, Otudeko, unknown to many people, lived in a rented luxury apartment on Bourdillon road, Ikoyi, until the billionaire chairman of Globacom, Dr Mike Adenuga, bought the building and sent him on a house-hunting trail. Oba cried blue murder, yet no dice.
Now, Oba lives on Gerard Road, Ikoyi, at one of the luxury apartments of Pascal Dozie, the founder and former Chairman of Diamond Bank Plc. But, wait a minute, why is Oba at his level living in a rented apartment? The life of a billionaire is oft befuddling. More often than not, they exhibit weird and wonderful characters that distinguish them from peers. But sometimes, they do things that make them look like the average man in the street. This is why the case of Otudeko blurs the line between utter incredulity and utmost curiosity. In spite of his ‘billions’ however, Otudeko is a proud tenant in the same city he has made tons of billions!!!
Curiously, however, those who know say his life and lifestyle are built on a facade of prosperity; and that the underbelly of his presumed wealth is a seamy bubble of debts.
For emphasis, Oba Otudeko is also the founder and chairman of the Honeywell Group. Until days back, he served as the chairman of FBN Holdings PLC, the holding company which owns First Bank, where he was chairman until 2010. Oba Otudeko was ignominiously removed from his exalted position at the FBN by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Thursday, April 29, due to the apex bank’s regulatory forbearance (a financial term for softening some of the strict rules that banks must comply with if they were to avoid being taken over by the CBN) and support in the corporate restructuring of the bank to protect it from crumbling under humongous insider loans running into trillions of naira.
Oba Otudeko’s Honeywell, among other corporate interests, is hugely indebted to the FBN. Days back, the CBN wrote the bank, stating, “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.”
A big regulatory concern was Honeywell Flour Mill’s collateral for the loan facility. According to the CBN’s memo, “We further noted that in four years, the bank is yet to perfect its lien on the shares of Mr Oba Otudeko in FBN Holdco which collateralised the restructured credit facilities for Honeywell Flour Mills contrary to the conditions precedent for the restructuring of the company’s credit facility.”
The CBN further stated that the insiders who took loans in the bank, with controlling influence on the board of directors, failed to adhere to the terms for the restructuring of their credit facilities which contributed to the poor financial state of the bank.
According to Godwin Emefiele, Governor, Central bank of Nigeria, “The CBN’s recent target examination as at December 31, 2020, revealed that insider loans were materially non-compliant with restructure terms (e.g. non-perfection of lien on shares/collateral arrangements) for over 3 years despite several regulatory reminders. The bank has not also divested its non-permissible holdings in non-financial entities in line with regulatory directives.”
In a move that sent the financial industry into a seismic shock, the Board of Directors of First Bank of Nigeria Limited, Wednesday, whilst trying to outsmart the CBN, said that it had appointed Gbenga Shobo as its Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (CEO). Shobo’s appointment followed the news that the former MD/CEO, Dr Adesola Adeduntan, had retired.
But the CBN nullified that transition process and said the board has no justification because Dr Adeduntan’s tenure had not yet run out, and there was no notification from First Bank to the CBN over the transition. Adedunatan is back in the office while Oba Otudeko and other top directors of the bank are now out in the cold.
Source: The Capital