This Day (Lagos)

25 November 2012

Nigeria: Princess Comfort Olufunke Ponnle - a Truncated Love Story

opinion

Nseobong Okon-Ekong chronicles the life and times of an exemplary woman who became one with her husband in every sense of the word

Ada was sleepy rural town in Osun state before the Ponnles made a profound intervention by establishing what has become one of the best known leisure and hospitality centres in Nigeria. MicCom Golf Hotel & Resort is the first privately-owned golf course facility in Nigeria.

Working together as an exemplary husband and wife team, late Mrs. Comfort Olufunke Ponnle whose funeral rites have been announced by her family worked hard in her lifetime to build a good reputation for Ada.

She did not only share her husband, Prince Tunde Ponnle's for engineering, they practically did everything together. She was his pillar of support. There is little wonder then that they jointly chaired all their enterprise, starting with the flagship of the group, MicCom Cables and Wires Limited.

Theirs was an enduring story of love intertwined with business. Even when they conceded to have a biography, it was a joint one: The Magic of Pulling Together: A Joint Biography of Prince Tunde and Princess Olufunke Ponnle. MicCom is an acronym for Michael and Comfort, a combination of the first names of the co-founders.

Such was the bond that held the Ponnles. At 73 years, it is doubtful if another woman can fill the void created in Prince Ponnle's life by the demise of Princess Olufunke. The true test of how his life will progress from now will unveil as the days go by.

Olufunke met the love of her life, Tunde Ponnle in the most likely place but in the most unlikely circumstances. They met when she was a student at the Anglican Girls Secondary Modern School, Ile Ife in 1961. He was a teacher in the school at the same period too. One thing led to another and by the Tuesday, April 26, 1966 they eventually got married at Ibadan.

Beginning with a night of tributes on Thursday, December 20, Princess Olufunke's earthly heritage will celebrated for all she was able to achieve in 68 years. The following day, December 21, there will be a wake keep. Her final funeral service holds on Saturday, December 22. All the events will hold at Ada, Osun State.

She served Osun state as a member, Planning Committee for the setting up of LAUTECH in the old Oyo State. She was a council member, The Polytechnic Ibadan. Her many instance of service were diverse including service as a member, Committee set up for the reorganization of Technical Education in Osun State; Member/Vice Chairman, Board of Trustees, UNDP-Osun State Human Development Fund. She was the co-Founder, MICCOM Foundation for Educational Development. She was honoured with Fellowship of both Yaba College of Technology and The Polytechnic, Ede.

Mrs. Ponnle with her husband spent the last four decades empowering people and showing them the way to make their ways better. One of their phenomenal contributions to nation building was through the institutionalization of a viable annual scholarship scheme - MicCom Foundation for Educational Development (MIFED). Apart from MIFED, she has also with the support of her husband have contributed to the society in the form of several corporate philanthropic activities. She has also engaged in several personal commitments that have put smiles in the faces of so many individual, families and institutions.

Born November 22, 1944 in Ibadan, Oyo State to Chief Salami Oluyole Balogun and Alhaja Humani Atinuke Asabi, both of blessed memory, Olufunke grew up in Ibadan even though her father hailed from Osogbo. She had her elementary education in Ibadan but lived most part of her early life with her late uncle, Chief Ajayi Fabunmi, the Odole Atobase of Ile-Ife, who was responsible for her training both in secondary modern school and teachers' training college.

She attended African church primary school Eko-tedo, Ibadan from 1950 to 1957 and thereafter proceeded to Anglican girls secondary modern school, Ile-Ife from 1959 to 1961, where she came out in flying colours in her final exams. She attended the United Missionary College Ibadan for her teachers training course from 1962 to 64.

She obtained her grade 2 teachers certificate before moving on to the University of Ife in 1969 for her associate diploma in Education that she completed in 1970. She taught briefly and later that year travelled abroad for her higher studies and was admitted into the Polytechnic of North London where she obtained the Higher Certificate in Telecom/Electrical Electronics like her husband. She came out as the best graduating student in this program and left behind a record that was unbeatable for several years.

She also obtained her certificate of practice from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Incorporated Engineers before returning to Nigeria. She was a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, a distinction earned by a very few woman in Nigeria today.

Returning to Nigeria in 1972, she worked as a technical officer in WNBC/WNBS in Ibadan and moved to Lagos on appointment as Production Engineer at the Adebowale Electrical Industry in 1973.

She led the company to achieve new levels of product design, brand innovation and higher quality of technical services. This caused another giant in the electrical business in Nigeria at the time - Maiden Electronics to poach her as her Production Engineer. In 1974, she moved to the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) as a Senior Training Officer (Technical) where she focused primarily on administration and the transfer of technical/technological skills to the next generation of Nigerians.

Olufunke's interest in the business at the beginning did not go beyond merely observing the staff of Tunde Ponnle doing the repairs of radio, TV and ac's at his workshop. As time went on, this casual observation transformed into the desire to become a professional Engineer in her own right.

MicCom Electronics Works was established in 1974. The company ultimately became fully incorporated with CAC and operated as an electrical contracting firm from this period until when MicCom Engineering Works was birthed. Soon after, MicCom Cables & Wires was established as the first indigenous cable and wire manufacturing company in Nigeria and West Africa.

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