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Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola: The generalissimo of western region’s politics  

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Ladoke Akintola

Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola was a politician, lawyer, journalist, and administrator. He was the Premier of the Western Region and the Aare Ona Kakanfo (generalissimo) XIII of Yorubaland. He was one of the founding fathers of modern Nigeria.

Born in Ogbomosho, Oyo State, on July 10, 1910, Akintola briefly attended CMS School, Minna, before returning to Ogbomosho in 1922 to finish at the Baptist Day School.

After his elementary education, he moved to Baptist College Ogbomosho – a teacher training and Seminary school in 1925 and after completing his secondary education in 1930, he was sent to Baptist Academy, Lagos, as a tutor. There, he became a member of the Baptist Teachers’ Union.

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Akintola resigned from teaching in 1942, to join the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) and later the Nigerian Daily Service Newspaper in 1942, from where he rose to become an editor.

During this period of politicking and journalism, he passed the University of London Matriculation Examination and went to London School of Journalism in 1946, on a one-year British Council Scholarship. On completion of his studies, Ladoke shifted to a degree course in Law and was called to the Bar in 1949. While in London, he did different odd jobs and was in good contact with the West African Student Union (WASU) founded in 1925.

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Returning to Nigeria in 1949, he teamed up with other educated Nigerians from the Western Region to form the Action Group (AG), with Chief Obafemi Awolowo as a leader. He later becomes the party’s deputy leader in 1953. And as deputy leader, he became the party’s Parliamentary Leader/Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives.

In 1959, Akintola became Premier of the Western Region. At the Federal level, he served as Minister for Health and later for Communications and Aviation.

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Decisions over the direction of strategic alliances by the party and the battle for supremacy in AG led to disagreement between Akintola and Awolowo. Akintola also opposed AG’s decision to adopt democratic socialism as its ideology, preferring a more conservative stance. He disagreed with Awolowo’s decision not to join the coalition with the ruling party — the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) that controlled the Federal Government.

In the general election of 1965, Akintola won as Premier, but not as a member of AG, rather as the leader of a newly formed party, Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP).

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Akintola was proficient in English, Yoruba, Nupe and Hausa languages. He was assassinated in Ibadan, the capital of the Western Region, in the military coup of January 15, 1966. He was 56 years old.

Public institutions, roads, and buildings within and outside Oyo State have been named after him, as a mark of honour.

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