Friends, Family Celebrate Late Somolu, Inaugurate Foundation

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Family and friends of late Somolu at the launch of his foundation

Sunday Okobi

Friends, family and associates of late Foluseke Abiodun Somolu recently gathered to celebrate the life and times of one of Nigeria’s most distinguished electrical engineers and former president of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), who they lauded as premium Nigerian engineering professional.

These groups of close people in Somolu’s life, also, in their efforts to keep his legacy, philosophy and goals alive, inaugurated the Foluseke Abiodun Somolu Foundation aimed at uplifting the engineering profession as well as the power sector at a well-attended ceremony held at the Afe Babalola Hall in the University of Lagos.

Somolu, who died on August 24, 2015, was described as a brilliant, hardworking and meticulous professional electrical engineer, as well as a resourceful and well-researched professional in his eloquent presentations, outstanding writings and numerous publications.

In his address, the chairman of the occasion, Moses Kupolokun, noted that Somolu devoted his private time and personal resources for the upliftment of engineering practice and power solution in Nigeria, adding that he was engaged in a lot of extra-curricular activities to fix the industry.

According to him, “He served at various times as National Chairman of the Nigerian Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (NIEEE) which he worked assiduously to establish and later as President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE). He was also a distinguished Electrical and Electronic Engineers Award Laureate of the NIEE. He was a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering (FAEng), as well as Fellow of the Institute of Engineering Technology ( FIET) of the United Kingdom, where he served for many years as the Nigerian Chief Examiner and Representative.”

Kupolokun, who was a close friend of the late engineer, stated that Somolu was an unusually patriotic Nigerian, “who was ready at all times to sacrifice personal comfort for the upliftment of people in need. He recognised and promoted excellence in others, irrespective of tribal background or political inclinations, hence the inauguration of the foundation. Therefore, let me seize this opportunity to implore all of us to support this notable cause in order to ensure its sustainability”.

Also, one of his associates who graced the ceremony, the Group Managing Director of Sahara Power Group, Kola Adesina, described himself as Somolu’s mentee, adding that his first interaction with the deceased was very powerful and instructive, where the late engineer charged that if they (Nigerian engineers) couldn’t convert their passion and intellect into generating power for industrialisation in the country, then they have wasted their time on earth.

He stated that Somolu’s life was that of principle, success and passion to see things done effectively, adding however that upon all his efforts to achieve constant power in Nigeria, the government has failed him (Somolu) by its failure to provide electricity for industrialisation an the populace.

Adesina, who also lamented that Nigeria is in darkness because of lack of alignment, promised to donate N2 million yearly to the foundation in order to achieve its goals.

In her remarks, Chairperson, Board of Trustees (BoI) of the foundation and wife of late Somolu, Dr. Olatokunbo, said although he had lived a truly fulfilled life, when her husband passed, she was greatly saddened by the fact that Nigeria had lost someone who was so passionate about the electricity industry. “How I wished he had lived another 20 more years!” She exclaimed.

She noted that the foundation, registered as not-for-profit organisation in Nigeria, is envisioned to ensuring that the goals for which Somolu worked relentlessly during his life time would be achieved.

While highlighting the main objectives of the foundation, Mrs. Somolu, who is also a doctor of engineering, further explained that among others, the organisation would support the education, teaching and research in the Nigerian electrical and power engineering(generation, transmission and distribution) sector; promote and celebrate excellence in power engineering profession in Nigeria; promote the adoption and advancement of technology in Nigeria; support upcoming generation of engineering students and aspiring power engineers, and also promote leadership and entrepreneurship in Nigerian power engineering sector.

She expressed her deepest gratitude towards her husband’s associates and friends for wanting to still carry on his research work, in the hope that gradually, the country would begin to witness positive changes in the electricity industry.

Members of the inaugurated Board of Trustees (BoI) of the foundation include Dr. (Mrs.) Somolu (Chairman); Emmanuel Akinwole (Honourable Secretary), while other members are Renben Okeke, Otis Oliver Anyaeyi, Professor Segun Aderingbe , Mr. Kola Adeshina, Mrs. Oreoluwa Lesi and Mr. Seke Somolu.

While delivering his paper on the topic: ‘The Nigerian Electric Power Supply Question: Development, Challenges and Solution, at the event, a guest lecturer, Professor James A. Momoh, said: “About 1.2 billion people, or 17 percent of the global population had no access to electricity in 2013. More than these 50 percent of these are in countries of sub-Sahara Africa. The provision of uninterrupted power by developing countries to its citizens will reduce poverty, increase productivity and promotes economic growth, which was the ideals of late Somolu.

“The countries of sub-Sahara, due to their inability to provide the energy needs of their people, cannot adequately provide health services, schools, clean waters, food security and industries to their people,” which he lamented was the late engineer’s vision for Nigeria.”