By Roland Ekama
Maritime big wigs and captains of industries from both government and private sector on Tuesday in Lagos, paid tributes to Late Engr. Olu Akinsoji, former Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) , even as they described him , as a mentor , perfect gentleman and patriotic Nigerian who dedicated his lifetime towards ensuring the growth of the nation’s shipping sub sector .
Late Engr. Olu Akinsoji died on the 16th of January 2024 at the age of 79.
Engr. Olu Akinsoji was a foremost Marine Engineer who worked with the defunct Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) where he rose to the height of Marine Engineer
He later became Engineer Superintendent under the Federal Ministry of Transportation as it was then called where he later rose to become Director of Marine
He was appointed as the Government Inspector of Shipping (GIS) under the same ministry and later as Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in London where he heralded the admission of Nigeria into the IMO White List for the first time.
He was later to be seconded as an Administrator to the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron, Akwa Ibom.
In retirement, the Federal Ministry of Transportation made him a member of the Interim Management Committee with some notable Maritime professionals to reposition the academy to international standards
Paying tributes to late Akinsoji at a Industry day of tributes held at the Mission To Seafarers Secretariat in Lagos, the stakeholders took turn to share sweet memories and time they shared with the astute and legendary Mariner.
They also described him as an intelligent and knowledgeable individual who was ready to serve the country whenever the need arise.
Speaking at the day of tribute, Former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho recounted Engr. Akinsoji’s prowess, stating, “Olu was a very good engineer. Olu was a good man as a man, but as an engineer, he was mean.” Capt. Ihenacho highlighted.
Iheanacho who is Chairman , Genesis Shipping , emphasized Engr. Akinsoji’s remarkable journey, from serving as a ship service to reaching the pinnacle of the government sector of shipping, regulating technical standards on ships.
The captain emphasized Engr. Akinsoji’s unwavering commitment and social prowess, describing him as a “faithful ally” who effortlessly made friends and addressed social challenges.
Also, Barr. Jean Chiazor Anisere, SAN who said she had known late Akinsoji for more than 20 years, described him as a disciplinarian saying he always gave listening ears to his mentees
On her part Mrs. Chinwe Ezenwa, Managing Director of LeLook, shared a personal connection, describing Engr. Olu as a mentor who played a pivotal role in her career.
She narrated how the late sage helped her to build her business after her retirement from the ministry even as she said his death touched her.
She highlighted his support in setting up a maritime consulting firm and expressed concern about the diminishing art of mentoring in the industry.
Ezenwa underscored the irreplaceable nature of human thought in mentorship and celebrated Akinsoji’s simplicity, knowledge, and humility.
Also speaking at the event, the Director General Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Bashir Jamoh described Akinsojii as a patriotic Nigerian, consummate professional and a maritime expert who was committed to the growth and development of the Nigerian maritime industry.
Dr. Jamoh who was represented by the Assistant Director Public Relations of NIMASA Osagie Edward emphasized Akinsoji’s role as a former Alternate Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation (APR-IMO) and his significant contributions as the former Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron.
“He dedicated almost his entire life to making his contributions towards a virile maritime industry for Nigeria.
“As a former Alternate Permanent Representative to the International Maritime Organisation (APR-IMO), former Rector of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron and a distinguished member of the Association of Master Mariners, Engr Akinsoji’s contributions to the industry will always stand the test of time.
“His passage is therefore not only a major loss to his family, but to Nigeria as a whole and the maritime industry in particular” the NIMASA DG said.
Reverend Canon Bimbo Aduroja in his sermon called on those present at the event to embrace God in all ramifications.
In attendance at the Day of Tribute were Former Minister of Interior, Captain Emmanuel Ihenacho; BOT Chairman of NISA, Chief Isaac Jolapamo; Chidi Illogu, SAN; Jean Chiazor Anishere SAN; and former President of NAGAFF , Dr. Eugene Nweke.
Also, representatives of the Association of Marine Engineers (AMES), led by its President Engr. Israel Obadan; former Director General, Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, Ify Akerele; Maritime Lawyer, Barr. Osuala Nwagbara; President of Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, Captain Tajudeen Alao; former Spokesman of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Captain Ihenacho Ebubeogu; Secretary General of Abuja MoU, Sunday Umoren; Chairman, Ports Consultative Council (PCC), Bolaji Sunmola; representative of SIFAX Group led by Captain Ibrahim Olugbade and Rear Admiral Goodswill Ombu (Rtd).
Others are: Ms. Funmi Folorunsho; Adegboyega Olopoenia CEO Massc Global Marine Limited; Engr. Michael Sese Atina, Chaplain Mission to Seafarers; Cannon Bimbo Aduroja, Asst Chaplain, Mission to Seafarers; Rev. Emmanuel Ilori; Captain Adewale Ishola; and members of the Nigeria Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association NMNOWTSSA led by the Vice National President (Shipping), Engr. Wale George amongst others