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Tribute to A Beacon of Nigerian Maritime Industry; Otunba Kunle Folarin

By Hope Orivri

Editors of the book “Beacons of Nigerian Maritime Industry” are greatly saddened by the passing of one of the highly-respected featured personalities; Otunba Kunle Folarin. He was 82 years old.

As a way of our honour to his beautiful memory, we present excerpts of  the published work about him.



With over 300 papers delivered world-wide, trying to bring precise methodology for port operations, Otunba Kunle Folarin is hungry for a Nigerian maritime industry that will, by its effectiveness, become a hub in sub-Saharan Africa. Not a tall order for him, as he has through several platforms including being Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Consultative Council, created awareness at various levels to engage industry operators, regulatory agencies of government, and potential investors in discusses to understand each one’s role in the goals set by all for industry sustainability.


Growing up, Kunle Folarin was caught between interests of studying in the sciences, and in social sciences, though he believes that everything has a base in the sciences. So, considering the length of time it takes studying medicine, Kunle Folarin settled for the social sciences. He studied social sciences, shipping, petroleum and energy in Oxford, in the United Kingdom.


On Reforms

From a professional viewpoint, Kunle Folarin encourages an all-inclusive port reform, which should be taken seriously by all stakeholders in the industry. He believes that a gap at any point in the circle is bound to affect other points of the circle, making it mandatory for each party to play its own role judiciously.

“When you reform the port system, all the players, the agencies must be brought into the system of the reform, educated on why the reform and the end objective must be clear and precise to all operators.”

– Otunba Kunle Folarin, in  the book ‘Beacons of Nigerian Maritime Industry.’



Experiences: the good, the challenges

Kunle Folarin, however, got a test of his theoretical knowledge put to real-life trial. It was shortly after the Nigerian civil war, and an armada of vessels littered the Nigerian ports, where about 600 vessels tried to berth in a facility that could only hold 30 vessels.

As head of the operations, Kunle Folarin received instructions from Paris to go and handle the situation on hand. With no room left to think how the situation would be handled, he set out working nearly round the clock, virtually living in the port environment until the job was successfully completed.


Early Life

Olakunle Folarin was born in Kano, and had his early days in Kano, though not enough to get him to be familiar with the Kano metropolis. His parents subsequently relocated from Kano to Lagos, and then went abroad where his father studied law.

Find full story in Beacons of Nigerian Maritime Industry.

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