Foluseke Somolu: Engineer: (1946 – 2015)
Apart from his wife and children, the person I consider closest to and with a deep personal knowledge of late Engr Foluseke Abidemi Sunday Somolu is Prof Frank Okafor. And that Professor has said enough in various documentations that I just wonder what else anyone can add.
Yes, he was my mentor but I went straight to benefit from his unique attributes on commitment to our profession, a tenacity for record keeping, straight talk, and a passion for fine details in all matters professional and I did not regret my investment in learning from him on all of the above. So to talk about him I would find it enough to keep to those issues.
Yes, we were in the Faculty of Engineering University of Lagos together; he was in his final year when I was in my first and all I knew was that Tokunbo (now Dr Tokunbo Somolu FAEng, FNSE) one of the only two females in the Faculty at the time, also did her private studies in the reading room which the tall handsome man and I used regularly. Gradually I knew more than what I thought was a mere coincidence.
Upon my retirement from service in 1991 and I pitched tent with the Nigerian Society of Engineers to promote my Liberalisation of telecommunications industry agenda, I became very close to Engr Seke Somolu especially on professional and mentorship issues. One day a telephone call from him set the agenda for our relationship from that time till he passed on August 24, 2015.
“Titi, do you know we share the same birthdate?”
“So you are also July 14, Uncle?”
“I’m just reading your resume”
“But that is not why I called you. We agreed in Exco of the Electrical Division to invite you to vie for the position of deputy when I become Chairman”
That began our story of succession all through several positions in the NSE until I declined to run for election into the Deputy President office when Engr Somolu rose to be President. Just as I succeeded him as Chairman NIEEE, I did also as Unofficial Member in NSE Exco; Vice President (Professional Development), and Chairman of three Committees of Exco at various times. His passion all life is power engineering while mine is telecommunications.
He endorsed and encouraged every capacity building endeavour I made in my industry and stamped an inprint of NSE on a particular training of The CyberSchuul.
The ‘YarAdua sacks Somolu’ issue is perhaps the most intense subject he shared with me far ahead of his putting the story in text when he wrote his autobiography titled MY STORY (A pictorial record).
Simply put, the Yar Adua ‘kitchen cabinet’, apparently what people call ‘cabal’ today, was merely working to scuttle the NIPP project. They invented a lie which Seke’s interventionist ‘straight talk’ boldly sought to correct and he was, predictably, fired by the sick man.
Contrary to what many people expected and thought, ‘Seke was not bitter. He was satisfied he had done his best for Nigeria and for humanity and he looked forward to getting out of such an ugly team in which he had to operate at the time since President Yar Adua took over from President Obasanjo.
If he was angry about anything it was the silence of the Nigerian Society of Engineers at the time that he (and I) did not like.
Regrettably, I owed him a debt.
When I visited him on January 14, 2014 he handed over an autographed copy of his book MY STORY to me with a request that I should read and make observations.
Yes, I read the book noted my observations and meant to discuss with him. The day I went to his house I pretended I had not finished putting my impression together. And that was because the condition of his health gave me concern. I was still waiting for the appropriate time when the cock crowed on August 24, 2015.
Foluseke Abidemi Sunday Somolu: FAEng; FNSE; July 14, 1946 – August 24, 2015:
May his soul rest in the Lord.
I thank all those who put this Foundation Initiative together and for inviting me to speak.