Folorunsho Folarin-Coker, Director General of the Nigeria Tourism Development Corporation devotes a memorial to his late father, Chief Nathaniel Folarin Coker, the Babaeto of Lagos, which focuses on his special love for his alma mater, CMS Grammar School, the first secondary school in Nigeria
Considering that Elderman Folarin Coker graduated from the CMS Grammar School in 1941 several decades before I was born, I feel deeply humbled, honoured and highly privileged to have shared the Grammar School heritage with him and to write this tribute in his honour.
He was an illustrious, devoted, committed and prominent Old Grammarian and Senior Prefect 1941 set. His contributions to the development of the Old Grammarians Society and CMS Grammar School are legendary and iconic.He lived up to the words and ideals of our great school song.It will be difficult for us to consign to the dungheap of history, the worthy contributions of Elderman Coker to the life of the school and OGS.
In 2010, he inspired, conceived and donated the Bishop Seth Irunsewe Kale Memorial Tower Clock, a Chiming Tower Clock one of the firsts in designed style in black Africa and similar to the historic Big Ben Tower Clock in Central London, UK customized to chime every one hour with the first stanza of the School Song as its signature tune, which exhorts everyone, particularlystudents of the school, to burn brightly.
When He turned 90 in 2013, as a veteran state swimmer, he initiated and bequeathed a Swimming Academy inclusive of state-of-the-art Olympic Size Swimming Pool, by that gesture CMS Grammar School became the first and only legacy school in Nigeria to have a Swimming Academy. He gave and gave. He was a kind, mild and generous genius. Even in his nineties, he never missed any Founder’s Day thanksgiving. Such was his passion for his almamater.
For his sterling contributions to the school and OGS, he was honoured with the OGS Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. He was simply a sensation! Nevertheless, we know by His Grace, the beam in the legacy he left behind will continue to burn brightly ever in the spirit of the wordings of the CMS Grammar School song.
The late Coker who lived between July 23, 1923 and August 12, 2020 was an astute bureaucrat and served his home state, Lagos as a Permanent Secretary. He was a recipient of the National Honour, Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
In a tribute, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu recalled that Coker, “served Lagos meritoriously as a public servant in various capacities.”
He served Lagos State as Permanent Secretary in various ministries such as Education; Youth, Sports and Social Development, Trade, Mines and Natural Resources as well as the Ministry of Information and Tourism.
The late Folarin Coker lived a good life and was a very lively personality, an attribute that commended him to many as a socialite and earned him the title, Babaeto of Lagos.