• Friday, December 08, 2023
businessday logo

BusinessDay

Fela Durotoye: From presidential aspirant to Tinubu’s aide

Fela Durotoye: From presidential aspirant to Tinubu’s aide

In the world of business consultancy, leadership expertise, and motivational speaking, one name stands out, Fela Durotoye.

Born on May 12, 1971, in Ibadan, Oyo State, Fela Durotoye has not only made a mark as the President of the Gemstone Nation Builders Foundation but also left his imprint on Nigeria’s political landscape. His journey from a presidential aspirant to a presidential aide is nothing short of remarkable.

Educational background

Durotoye’s academic journey began as the child of Layiwola and Adeline Durotoye, both esteemed professors at the University of Ibadan. He embarked on his educational path at the Staff Children’s School (1974–1981) and later graduated to Moremi High School (1981–1986). His quest for knowledge led him to earn a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science with Economics, as well as a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A) at Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. He also expanded his horizons at the John F. Kennedy School of Government Executive Education program of Harvard University.

Fela Durotoye’s thirst for knowledge didn’t stop there. He attended the High Impact Leadership for a better society program at Yale University and became a certified leadership coach of the John Maxwell team. In 2015, he completed the executive seminar program on strategy, innovation, and governance at the Lagos Business School, followed by the supernumerary police training program at the Nigerian Police training college.

Career evolution

Durotoye’s career took root in 1992 when he worked as a financial analyst at Ventures & Trusts Limited. In 1998, he assumed the role of the head of the customer service department at Phillips Consulting Limited. Not content with the status quo, he established V.I.P Consulting Limited in 2000, which quickly gained recognition in customer and human management in Nigeria. The company later transformed into a social enterprise known as Visible Impact Limited.

Durotoye’s expertise extended beyond the confines of his office as he became a facilitator and speaker at management and leadership retreats, both in Nigeria and abroad. In 2018, he shared his insights with over 200 entrepreneurs at the inaugural Nigerian American Business Forum in Tampa Florida, where he joined prominent figures like Senator Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi, Senator Ben Murray-Bruce, Nigerian Stock Exchange Chairman, Abimbola Ogunbanjo, Media pioneer Biodun Shobanjo, former governor Peter Obi, and technologist Ade Olufeko.

Social impact

One of Fela Durotoye’s notable endeavours was “Mushin Makeover” project in December 2009. Collaborating with celebrities such as Banky W, Alibaba, Kate Henshaw, and Sound Sultan, he rallied more than 2,000 volunteers to paint 296 houses across seven streets in the Mushin suburb of Lagos. The project not only revitalised the area but also provided training to over 100 unemployed youths in the art and technique of painting, helping them secure employment opportunities.

A leap into politics

On February 22, 2018, Fela Durotoye declared his intention to run for the presidency in the 2019 Nigerian general election under the political party Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN). He gained recognition as the consensus candidate of the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together (PACT), a coalition of 11 aspirants. Durotoye chose Khadijah Abdullahi-Iya as his running mate.

From aspirant to aide

The story doesn’t end there. In 2023, Fela Durotoye’s journey took a new turn when he was appointed as the Senior Special Assistant to the President for National Values & Social Justice in Bola Tinubu’s administration. This transition from presidential aspirant to presidential aide is a testament to his commitment to serving his nation’s interests.

Nigerians react to Durotoye’s appointment

Fela Durotoye’s journey and his recent appointment sparked a range of reactions across Nigeria. Many have voiced their opinions on social media, highlighting various perspectives on his new role.

One X user, Akíntúndé Babátúndé (@olorunwababs), stressed that individuals who accept government appointments have their reasons, and it’s essential to respect their decisions. He urged people to focus on fixing the country’s issues rather than criticising those willing to serve.

Another X user, Abíólá (@mreportah), pointed out that many people had supported and believed in Fela Durotoye during his presidential campaign. The decision to accept the appointment was seen as a shift from his earlier stance, leaving some of his supporters disappointed.

Also, DISTINGUISHED KPMG LinkedIn Everest (@novieverest) humorously suggested running a GoFundMe campaign to help Fela Durotoye “buy back his values.” The comment reflects the view that accepting a government appointment may come with political compromises.

Saint Abiodun Adegoke (O G) (@Saintbaba70) highlighted the importance of welcoming individuals with bright ideas into the political arena. He emphasised that political party affiliation should not be a barrier to contributing to Nigeria’s transformation.

On the other hand, Durotimi Dawodu Of Lagos (@TimiBlaze) expressed frustration with those who often advised credible individuals to start their political careers at the local government level. He criticized those who pushed such narratives, calling them “zombies.”

Some others whose views are not individually reflected, wondered why a man who had aspired to become a president of a nation, suddenly crashed to the position of an aide, not even to ministerial level.

“I thought that Durotoye was a made-man already. What is he doing with a role of an aide? Just like that? It is a pity that in this part of the world everybody wants to be in government, no matter the role they are to play. It is sad indeed. In many parts of the world, people are not so obsessed with political appointment as is the case here. Even pastors no longer mind leaving their pulpits to serve as janitors in president’s office. I guess it is because of the too much money in government; everybody just wants to go get his/her share. It is worrisome,” a businessman who craved anonymity said.