By AKINTOLA OMIGBODUN
Chief Samuel Olatunde Fadahunsi was 94 years old at his death on 12 August 2014. He was born in Ora, Osun State although his parents were from Ilesha, Osun State.
His early education started from Saint John’s Infant School, Iloro, Ilesha and he went on to other schools in Osu, Ilesha, Ibadan and Osogbo culminating in his secondary education at Government College, Ibadan, GCI, between 1937 and 1942. He was next at Yaba Higher College between 1943 and 1946.
He was employed by the Nigerian Public Works Department, PWD, in 1947 and in 1948 he obtained a scholarship to study civil engineering at Battersea Polytechnic, University of London. He returned to the Nigerian PWD as a chartered engineer in 1954.
His postings included Ibadan, Osogbo before he spent 1957-1958 in the UK at the Roads Research Laboratory. With the Nigerianisation policy, he became the Chief Water Engineer, Western Nigeria in 1960. Under his watch, water schemes involving dam construction were executed in Oyo, Ogbomosho, Abeokuta and Ibadan.
Discussions for the formation of an engineering society started in the UK and when the initiators which included Chief Fadahunsi returned to Nigeria, the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE, was formed with Engineer Adeniyi Williams as its first President.
Chief S.O. Fadahunsi held the position of President in 1968-1969. Later, the Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria, COREN, which registers all engineering practitioners, was established by statute with Chief S.O. Fadahunsi as No. 1 in its register and also as its President from 1977 to 1986.
The Lagos Executive Development Board, LEDB, was his final place of employment in the public service arriving from Ibadan in 1963 and retiring from the LEDB in 1971. He assumed duties as Deputy Chief Executive Officer and he subsequently became the Chief Executive Officer, CEO.
I was adult enough at the time to understand that before he took over as CEO, there was a power struggle between those who believed that the position of CEO should continue to be the preserve of our ex-colonial bosses and those who felt otherwise. Chief S.O. Fadahunsi had a substantial breadth and depth of knowledge in engineering structures, roads, soil mechanics, water supply and town planning which he brought to bear on his work at LEDB and elsewhere. His thoroughness and attention to detail were legendary.
I recall that on his instructions, enumerators of affected properties and persons were asked to report for work before dawn for the assessment of the area affected by the Eko Bridge construction. This was to ensure that all eligible persons were counted.
Chief S.O. Fadahunsi loved his people and we returned his love in greater proportions. I recall on occasion officials of his Cathedral Society – the Torch Bearers – would call on him to inform him of the society’s intention to visit him with a special meeting.
When the visit did take place, it was a joyous occasion for all, the society members were full of appreciation as they were royally entertained. We would miss the yearly gatherings at his Apapa home on his birthday. The GCI Old Boys’ Association would miss the yearly visits with him in October.
His Ilesha home – House on the Hill-is a marvel as it is one place where one could stay in the clouds and look down on the rest of Ilesha. We are glad this will always be there for us.
I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to share in his life and that of his wife Chief Mrs. Iyabo Fadahunsi, starting from 1950s when he met my parents during his posting to Osogbo. He will be buried in Ilesha on Saturday 6 September 2014.