The Smiling Doyen Bows Into Glory
Telecommunications engineer, and Doyen of Nigerian Communication industry spanning several decades, Engr Olawale Adeniji Ige, died on May 9, 2022 and is being buried today May 20, 2022 in his hometown, Ogbomosho.
He was born on October 13, 1938 in Ogbomosho, educated at Baptist Boys High School, Abeokuta, studied electrical engineering at the Polytechnic, Regent Street, London (now University of Westminster), and returned to Nigeria as a chartered engineer in 1967 to join the services of the Federal Ministry of Communications where he rose to the position of a Director General in 1989.
Engr Ige it was who, as Minister of Communications from 1990 to 1992, promoted the liberalisation of the industry to the ruling military Executive Council and by that emerged an industry regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC in 1993. He was also Minister of Transport.
At different times, he chaired various communication developmental initiatives which took Nigeria out of the woods in public telephone services. He was Chairman Nigeria Internet Group and served on the Board of NCC. He was admitted to the national honour of MFR in 1979 and into fellowship of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering in 2004.
Three years ago at his 80th birthday, I posted the following texts in a compendium which celebrated him:
“..’OGA IGE’ TOOK US TO THE PROMISED LAND – The fellows who conceived the idea that time was up that a PAPER to argue to Government that LIBERALISATION of Nigeria’s TELECOM INDUSTRY (of that time) was the panacea to poor phone services also said the iron should be bent while it was red hot.
Two things made the iron ‘red-hot’ in 1991. One was the common knowledge that Gen Ibrahim Babangida, Military President at the time, gave his Ministers a free hand and a listening ear on matters of development. The other was that incumbent Minister of Communications (much later, and Transport), ‘Oga Ige’ (Engr Olawale Adeniji Ige) was our own, a believer, and a go-getter. And somebody said “With those two facts as our asset, if we shoot at this moment, we won’t miss”.
The paper was tidied up and presented to Minister Olawale Ige. The remaining is history.
Suffice to say the Decree 75 of 1992 which liberalised the telecom industry and established the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) became law just as Oga Ige was completing his tenure as Minister. It was what changed the story of our phone system and only those who lived in those days and who are still alive today will appreciate the magnitude of the Change.”
The above text itself was taken from a yet to be published work on “Adventure into Nigeria’s Telecommunications Development”.
How do you answer to phone calls? “Hello”, right?.
“Iiiigeeee”. That was how Oga Ige did his own.
Sunre, Oga. You paid your dues.