Men around President Abdel Nasser (10) Engineer Mohamed Sedki Sulayman, Minister of the High Dam
Reviewed by: Wafaa El-houeiny
Translated by: Nour Elhoda Abdel Ghaffar
Men around President Abdel Nasser (10). Engineer Mohamed Sedki Sulayman, Minister of the High Dam
Mohamed Sedki Sulayman was born on September 7, 1919, in As-Siyafa village of Toukh, Qalyubia Governorate. He obtained a Bachelor of Engineering in 1939, then Engineer Mohamed Sedki joined the 9th batch of the Staff College. The batch included the leaders: Salah Salem (ranked first in the batch), Abdel Hakim Amer (ranked second in the batch), Abdel Muhsin Kamil Murtagi, Gamal Abdel Nasser, Zakaria Mohieddin, Tharwat Okasha, and Kamal Henry Abadir, and prominent military engineers: Mohamed Sedki Sulayman and Samir Helmy. Engineer Sedki received his Master of Military Sciences.
After the July 52 revolution, Engineer Mohamed Sedki was the Secretary General of the Production Council in 1954. This council had a prominent role in shaping national life at the time in a wonderful way that was not destined to last. Through this position, Sedki Sulayman was briefed on the technical backgrounds of Egyptian national problems, and possible alternatives to their solutions. He was then appointed Secretary General of the Higher Planning Committee in 1956.
In 1961, Engineer Mohamed Sedki Sulayman was appointed Director General of the Economic Corporation, which is the entity that included the companies that the revolution nationalized. Then he was chairman of the Board of Directors of the Building Materials and Refractories Corporation.
In 1962, concern was growing about a flood that threatened the completion of the High Dam construction project and would sweep away all efforts, causing economic, political, and water losses and causing water in the streets of Cairo to rise to more than five centimeters, if the required work was not completed, within two years. That's when President Abdel Nasser intervened and said that the solution lay in "Sedki Sulayman," an engineer officer who participated in important works, the most prominent of which was participating in the establishment of military factories, the Iron and Steel Company, the Semaf Company, and all mining companies.
President Nasser decided to establish a separate ministry for the High Dam and made Sedki Sulayman its minister (the first and last minister of that ministry). This was accompanied by a funny anecdote, which is that Sulayman's house was in front of the bus station, and on the morning of his appointment to the ministry, he was surprised to find it removed. When he asked why, he was told that it was for security reasons. That was when he asked for everything to go back to the way it was as a "mercy to the people." The next day he traveled to Aswan and stayed there for 8 years until the construction of the dam was completed. Engineer Mohamed Sedki Sulayman did not ask for much in return for fulfilling President Gamal Abdel Nasser's desire to follow up on the construction of the dam, as he had two requests, which the late president agreed to immediately. Sulayman's request was to be granted the same capacities of the President of the Republic, and a direct telephone line to the Office of the President of the Republic.
The group led by Sulayman included more than 30,000 Egyptian workers and Russian experts. He found that "bureaucracy" was prevalent, so he announced the principle of "do not submit papers but speak"; he abandoned his office and remained in the field receiving complaints and providing solutions. One of these complaints was the issue of attendance and departure (shift exchange), which was wasting many hours of the day, between preparations and arrangements. Therefore, he decided that the head of each shift would work an extra hour early, to identify what was required of him and the problems that faced who was before him, which contributed to increasing the productivity of each shift.
The morale of the workers was one of his priorities, so he decided that if a worker worked hours that exceeded the 8-hour working day he would be paid an additional remuneration. He also decided that whenever a stage is accomplished, a reward starting from 5 pounds to 100 pounds will be given out. In addition, he allocated places for the families of married workers, with consumer complexes, and facilitated the transfer of their children to Aswan schools. The entertainment concerts where most of Egypt's artists performed were part of the construction project program.
He issued decisions to accelerate the pace of work in the construction of the dam, assigning engineering officers, including those who completed their military service. He established a training institute for working on the dam. He also decided that the last year for students of the industrial diploma in Aswan would be working in the construction of the dam.
"No rest and no vacations until the mountain collapses" was Sulayman's rule, which was followed by everyone who worked in the construction of the High Dam. It was as if they were on a train, that had only one stop; success. He hung signs to illustrate the countdown to the remaining time until the course of the river is changed, which was reviewed daily, and written on it was (.... days left). This set the enthusiasm of the workers aflame. He became known for his famous saying: "We learned from the construction of the dam that patience does not lie in surrendering to time.. but in resistance it. ”
"To a brother and a friend, the Minister of the High Dam.. a memory of cooperation, friendship and success" were simple yet deep words, written on a "card" in the middle of a "bouquet of flowers ", by the hands of the workers of the High Dam, to present it to a man whose name was written in letters of gold, that time will never be able to erase. On May 16, 1964, President Gamal Abdel Nasser granted Minister Mohamed Sedki Sulayman the Nile Sash.
Engineer Mohamed Sulayman became Prime Minister on September 10, 1966, and remained as such until June 19, 1967, when he was appointed Minister of Industry, Electricity, and the High Dam. Engineer Mohamed Sulayman was a member of the National Conference of the Socialist Union in 1968, and supervisor of the Suez Canal Authority on May 22, 1969. He was then selected as an advisor to the President of the Republic on November 8, 1970, and then as head of the Accountability State Authority on January 14, 1971, until his resignation in 1987.
On January 15, 1971, President Sadat awarded him the Order of the Nile in recognition of his deeds in the service of his homeland.
Sedki Sulayman lived his life quietly and was not known for his tendency to engage neither in the media and press conferences, nor in public societies and their activity, and thus he was destined to escape both their temptations and their consequences.
Engineer Mohamed Sedki Sulayman died on March 28, 1996, at the age of 77.
In his memory, the Egyptian Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation lifted the curtain on the car of Engineer Mohamed Sedki Sulayman, which was used by President Gamal Abdel Nasser, during the construction of the High Dam, in preparation for its exhibition in the outdoor Nile Museum in Aswan.
Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram website.
The Republic of Egypt Presidency website