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Rotimi Fashakin (1962-2022): One Last ‘Conversation’, Countless Memories, By Tunde Ojo


Tunde Ojo
Tunde Ojo

My last conversation with him was a WhatsApp message exchange.

It was on Wednesday September 14 at 6.51pm.  Close to an hour earlier, Rotimi Fashakin had just shared a piece he had written titled  “The Changing Face of the British Monarchy,” barely 6 days following the transition of Queen Elizabeth 11. The queen reigned for 70 years, possibly the longest in living memory.
In it he traced a brief history of the British monarchy from “monarchical absolutism” when kings arrogated to themselves the right to rule as given by God to the birth of Magna Carta, “The Great Charter, ” the principle of which makes every individual, including the king, subject to the law – the rise of parliamentary sovereignty and constitutional monarchy. He lionized the departed queen for the sustenance of the Commonwealth and under whose rule the Royal family started paying taxes, one of history’s unthinkable possibilities.
After reading this write-up, I sent him a comment and our exchange went thus:
“Thanks for this brilliant and informative piece,” I wrote, adding an emoji of a hand pointing to his piece.
“Just learning from you, Sir. . . the learning process continues . . Thank you,” he responded.
“Ahhh! There may be a problem of definition here, if not of references. Who is the teacher? Who is the learner? When an Engineer thinks this strong and writes this well. . . His teacher must be out of this world,” I replied.
I added: “Congratulations, again, for being a thought leader.”
“Much respect Sir.” And he signed off.
When the shocking news of his sudden passing ten days after on September 24, 2022 broke, it was unbelievable, except that the source was a trusted one, someone not given to frivolities. My head reeled.  My thoughts became scrambled. Countless memories flooded my mind.
I was at the unforgettable wedding of Tolu, his first son, on June 25, this year at the Marriott Hotel, GRA, Ikeja. He and his amiable wife, Busola, were as gorgeous and as gracious as they played perfect hosts at the highly impressive reception. When I pleaded with him that I would have to leave early, he insisted that I should perish the thought if only to “atone” for the “sin” of not attending the wedding with my wife.
I remembered his invitation to the wedding of their second son, Ayomide, on August 13, in less than two months after the first one which, unfortunately, I couldn’t attend but I knew this couldn’t have been less joyous an occasion than the first.
I remembered that I obtained my first international passport, many years ago, through the kind assistance of his wife, then a young Immigration Officer, (now Nigeria’s Assistant Comptroller General of Immigration and a Member of the National Institute, mni ), without stress or having to pay any bribe. I am still deeply grateful.
I remembered his commitment to the Christian faith as we grew together with his wife in the same church as young couples at the National Headquarters of the Foursquare Gospel Church in late eighties and early nineties before they moved to the Anthony Village branch as pioneering members twenty eight years ago.
He was a loving husband and a doting father – an exemplary family man.
I remembered him as a hard working engineer in the telecoms sector before the advent of GSM in Nigeria. I remembered him as a good debater, a compelling writer and speaker. No wonder he became the National Publicity Secretary of Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), one or he legacy political parties of the ruling APC under the leadership of General Muhammadu Buhari , now the President.
Rotimi Fashakin is easily remembered for his way with words; he was as eloquent in speech as he was polemical in writing. Debate was his forte. Hardly can you find an engineer so gifted. He was a fellow of Nigeria Society of Engineers: highly numerate and literary, at the same time.
To strengthen his service to the nation and his pursuit of justice, he embarked on a degree in law at the University of Buckingham, UK. He was eagerly waiting to receive this award in December this year. This is after years of service to the engineering profession.
His sense of justice, fairness and service was what took him to politics. He was a rarity among most Pentecostal Christians who treated politics as a slippery road to the destination of the doomed and the destiny of the damned. Not a few Christians of the same persuasion as his must have wondered why he went to politics.
Rotimi Fashakin had clarity of why he went to politics. President Muhammadu Buhari called him “a dedicated and loyal party man whose intellect and competence were amazing.” He also described him as a man “who would stand by you through thick and thin without ever complaining.”
The former Director-General/CEO of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) – where he served as Executive Director, Operations – Dr. Dakuku Peterside said Nigeria had lost a great son whose leadership skills were needed at a time when the country was experiencing grave uncertainty and storm. He added: “ Fashakin may hold strong views on issues, yet he was a people’s person who connected well with others, no matter your opinion . . .Literarily every staff of NIMASA (2016-2020) looked up to him to fight for them at Executive Management and Board meetings because of his hatred for injustice and passion for fairness.”
One of his political associates in All Progressives Congress (APC), in her tribute, said, Engineer Rotimi Fashakin was not a politician, he was a nation builder.”
Although his body has been interred, his legacy of love for God, family, honesty, humility, fight for justice and the dream of a better Nigeria will live on. His full-throated laughter of warmth and friendship will continue to echo in our memory.
  • Tunde Ojo, a Brand/Marketing Communications Consultant, MD/CEO,Touchstone Limited, and a Pastor with the Foursquare Gospel Church in Nigeria, contributed this tribute from Lagos.

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