Femi Fourscore Osibona’s untold story
Femi Osibona, the late boss of Fourscore Homes, owners of the 21-storey collapsed Ikoyi building, came into the consciousness of Nigerians following the incident that claimed several lives, including him.
Among the elites, he was a household name for his giant strides in building high rise estates in different parts of the world, notably United Kingdom and South Africa. However many Nigerians have not had his name until the recent ugly incident.
His company was reputed to had built some of the best estates in United Kingdom and lately Nigeria. According to report, the collapsed structure was his biggest project, with the intention of proving the capability Nigeria owned companies to perform well along their foreign counterparts. However, he didn’t live to finish the project he started.
Femi Osibona’s death brought to limelight his company, with many Nigerians wanting to know more about it, especially it’s location in Nigeria. The Nigerian Xpress went on a search of the location of his company. The only known address, as found on the internet, was 34, Emmanuel High Street, Ojota, one of the Lagos suburbs.
When this reporter visited the street on a mission to unravel the personality of the man who had come under heavy knocks for allegedly contravening the state ‘s building standard, the mood at Emmanuel High Street was one of sadness and grief. The street was unusually quiet while residents speaks in hushtone.
They wore long faces, lamenting the untimely death of a benefactor who had done so much for people in the street especially the less privileged ones. They are more aggrieved considering the manner of his death. They ask rhetorically how death could have taken a man they have come to love. They mourn the death of Femi Osibona, the owner of Fourscore Homes who died in the collapsed 21-storey Ikoyi building.
For those who may not know, 34, Emmanuel High Street, Ojota, is the family house of the late estate guru. The address was registered as his office address many years ago and is the only office address known with the company. Though the company also claimed it has office in Ikoyi but all efforts to locate the Ikoyi office proved abortive as there were no available information on it’s particular location in the highbrow area either on the internet or elsewhere. The only Ikoyi address of the company happened to be the exact location of the crashed site, thereby making many people to wonder how the company or from where it operates.
More confusing was the fact that 34, Emmanuel High Street, does not look like an office building, especially for a company of such repute. Though well painted and neat, the six flats two-storey building with a another one storey boys quarters could have been built several years ago before modern architectural designs.
When Nigerian Xpress Newspaper visited the address on Friday November 5 at 4:15pm, gaining access into the compound was difficult as it was under lock . However the silence that pervaded the whole compound was an indication that something was amiss.
Nigerian Xpress Newspaper concern was confirmed when a woman, who operates a beauty salon in the next building on number 33 approached the reporter and inquired the purpose for visiting the building. When told the mission, which was trying to confirm if the address was the office address of Fourscore Homes Limited, the the woman bursted into tears and asked the reporter rhetorically in Yoruba language; “you mean it’s true Fourscore is dead!!!! Did he truly die in that Ikoyi collapsed building!!!! Have they found his body!!!!”
When told in the affirmative that Femi Osibona was among victims of the structure he was building, the distressed woman began to narrate how the late developer had impacted the lives of many people in the street when he came around to visit parents.
Nigerian Xpress investigation revealed not many people knew the late developer by his name. His company’ name, Fourscore was more popular as that was what the people in the street knew him with.
His father was also popularly known as “Baba Emmanuel” , an indication the street was named after him.
Late Femi Osinbona was the second child in a family of five children, with the eldest being a woman who lives in Ogudu. According to neighbours, his aged father was moved to Ikenne, Ogun State, due to old age after the death of his wife, late Femi’s mother .
It’s recalled Ikenne is the same hometown of the Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, who have been linked to be the the owner of the collapsed building, though the VP has denied ownership of the building,
Since the news of his death, the name, Fourscore have been on the lips of everyone in the street, both young and old. Before his death, and while his parents were still occupying the building, late Femi Osibona was said to be a regular visitor to the house on a visit to his parents.
He was described as a philanthropic who was always doling out cash to people in the street whenever he visited.
“Fourscore was a good man. He used to give everybody money whenever he comes to visit his father, “Baba Emmanuel”. He was always with police Baba has moved to Ikenne because of old age. There was a day my child was coming back from school and Fourscore was standing out. He saw my child’s school shoes that it was torn. Without me asking, he called me and gave me money to buy another shoe for him. He also gave me money to buy things for my children. How could he have died like that,” the neighbor known as Mama Bukky lamented.
She further lamented: ” When I saw it in the news that a building collapsed in Ikoyi and Fourscore was mentioned, I was praying and hoping that he would be rescued alive. It’s sad he didn’t make it.”
Another neighbor, Mama Malik, who sells recharge cards, told Nigerian Xpress that the late developer gave palliatives to residents of the street during the Covid-19 lockdown in 2020. According to her, he was also instrumental in the construction and asphalt laying of the street.
” During Covid-19, he was always giving us money, he shared noodles, rice and other food items to people in the street. He was a good man. This street was not tarred like this before now. When residents of the street went to meet late Senator Bayo Osinowo, to help us influence the construction of this street, he said he didn’t have such Influence, that we should go and meet Fourscore. According to him, Fourscore had more Influence in goverment than him. That was however Fourscore made sure government tarred this street, whereas he wasn’t living here,” she lamented in Yoruba language.
While many of the residents are yet to come to terms with the death of the man they regarded as their benefactor, some attributed the cause of the collapsed structure to some spiritual powers which they claim could have been targeted at the late developer.
” A building doesn’t collapse just like that. It must have been giving signs gradually. How could a 22-storey building collapse without giving any signal. Moreso that was not the first time he would built such structure. Why was it that the other two structures did not collapse, but only the one he was inside with workers collapsed? This could not have been ordinary, it was more of spiritual attack,” said another resident who sells alcohol in the street.
Their assumption, however, tarried with a video that went viral few days after his death where the late developer, dressed in a white garment church apparel was heard saying in Yoruba ” Won ni oso ni agbara, ti won ba ni agbara, won a ti mu mi bale. Sugbon won le ri mi mu”( They said witches. are powerful. If truly they are powerful, they would have succeeded in bringing me down but they can’t bring me down).
Though the government has inaugurated a six-man panel of enquiry to investigate the cause of the collapse, residents of Emmanuel High Street urged the government to ensure the report of the panel is made public.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu inaugurated the panel with a 30-day turn around. The panel is headed by the President of the Nigeria Institute of Town Planners, Toyin Ayinde.
Before his death, Femi Osibona, had, in an interview granted in 2019, said he started a real estate business in 1997 and had built over 50 projects in London and Manchester and from there, went to South Africa where he also built several estates.
“In all the projects abroad, we buy land and develop and I am the builder, I don’t engage any builder. I was in Atlanta for only four months before I decided to buy land. It is the same procedure in housing development and if you have done it in one country, then you can do it in another because it is the same principle,” he had said.