Timothy Adeola Odutola was born on June 16th, 1902 in his hometown of Ijebu Ode in Ogun state, Nigeria. He was a famous Nigerian businessman, politician, a pioneer entrepreneur, and philanthropist.
During Odutola’s time, he was among the fortunate children whose parents valued education. He attended St. Saviour’s School in Italupe, Ijebu-Ode. Sadly, at the age of fifteen, his father passed away in 1915, prompting Odutola to leave school. To ease his mother’s financial burden, he relocated to Ile-Ife with his family. Eventually, he returned to Ijebu Ode to reunite with his family and complete his secondary education at Ijebu Ode Grammar School, under the guidance of the renowned Reverend Ransome Kuti. However, he didn’t finish his secondary education, choosing instead to move to Lagos to fend for himself. He began his career as a clerk in various departments of the Lagos Colony and later transitioned into entrepreneurship, achieving significant success!
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Entrepreneurial Journey Begins
In 1932, Odutola took a significant step by resigning from his clerk position to embark on a journey in private enterprise. He established damask stores and fish stalls in key cities like Ife, Ibadan, Ilesha, and Lagos. Starting off as a trader in fishing nets and damask, he gradually expanded into the Cocoa and Palm trading industry.
This expansion led him to invest in lorries for efficient transportation of produce to Lagos for export. As his ventures grew, Odutola constructed two sizable commodity storage facilities. However, the emergence of marketing boards, along with their authority to regulate Cocoa and Palm oil trading, posed challenges to private entrepreneurs in the commodity produce sector.
Recognizing the shifting trends, Odutola strategically redirected his resources towards ventures in saw milling and gold mining at Ilesha. Additionally, he took on a prominent role as a key agent for John Holt Nigeria. As the country entered the era of industrialization, Odutola leveraged his industrial expertise to venture into rubber goods production. In 1967, he established manufacturing operations for cycle tyres and tubes, further diversifying his industrial portfolio.
Industrialist Timothy Adeola Odutola(1902 -1995) with his eldest child Olayide, leaving Buckingham Palace after receiving an O.B.E from HM the Queen -1951 pic.twitter.com/MmKrxxjUo0
— Yoruba History – by NNP (@YorubaHistory) November 28, 2019
Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola played a pivotal role in Nigeria’s manufacturing landscape, establishing a multimillion-dollar conglomerate that encompassed three factories, a retail franchise, a cattle ranch, a 5,000-acre plantation, a sawmill, and an exporting venture before the end of British colonial rule in 1960. He demonstrated a remarkable ability to identify and seize business opportunities, diversifying his enterprises to cater to a wide range of needs in various markets. Odutola’s enduring commitment to enhancing Nigeria’s infrastructure paved the way for a successful career in both business and politics, navigating through the dynamic political landscape from British rule through the challenges of civil war and subsequent coups and counter-coups.
Chief Odutola wielded significant political influence in Ijebuland, a position he began to assert from around 1945. In a historic move, he ascended to the esteemed title of Ogbeni-Oja of Ijebu in 1956, a position that had long stood vacant in Ijebu’s history prior to Chief Odutola’s appointment. Additionally, he held the distinction of being the inaugural President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN). In this role, he advocated for the interests of the manufacturing sector, leaving an indelible mark on Nigeria’s industrial landscape.
On February 28th, 1964, Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola established Adeola Odutola College Private School, a co-educational secondary institution. Notably, it was the first voluntary Agency Comprehensive High School in the former Western Region of Nigeria. In a selfless act, he handed over this significant institution to the Ogun State Government in 1975, without seeking any compensation, following the government’s takeover of schools. Fast forward to 2009, the Ogun State Government made the commendable decision to return the once privately-owned institutions to their original proprietors. The Odutola dynasty warmly embraced this opportunity to reclaim the school. Unfortunately, Chief Timothy Adeola Odutola passed away on April 13th, 1995, at the age of ninety-two (92).