Samuel Ladoke Akintola: Orator, Warlord, Legend

Samuel Ladoke Akintola or “S.L.A.” (July 6, 1910 – January 15, 1966) was a Nigerian politician, lawyer, aristocrat, and orator who was born in Ogbomosho, present-day, Oyo State, Nigeria. In addition to serving as one of the founding fathers of modern Nigeria, he was also the 13th Aare Ona Kakanfo of the Yoruba people.

EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION

Samuel Ladoke Akintola was born on the 6th of July, 1910 into a family whose attributes were wealth, valour, courage and bravery, and such person must naturally measure up to the family standard. His father was Akintola Akinbola and his mother, Akanke.

Ladoke was an enigma of a man, a Baptist Lay Preacher, a Yoruba fundamentalist, verbally gifted and naturally gregarious, attorney, editor, school teacher, railway worker, linguist, brilliant, witty, scholarly and humorous.

The Akintola family, famed in military background and substantial wealth, emigrated with Ladoke to Minna in 1914, where he had his early education at C.M.S. Minna. Shortly after, his father was caught in the Adubi War in Abeokuta on his way to Lagos to buy textiles and did not return until late 1918.

Akintola was thereafter sent back to Ogbomosho in 1922, to live with his grandfather, Akinbola, where he continued his education at the Baptist Day School from 1922-1925. In Minna, he had honed his skill and proficiency in English, Yoruba, Nupe and Hausa language.

Image of Samuel Ladoke Akintola
Samuel Ladoke Akintola (July 6, 1910 – January 15, 1966).

After his elementary education, he moved to Baptist College Ogbomosho – a teacher training and Seminary school in 1925 and after completion of his secondary education in 1930, being a brilliant student, he was sent to Baptist Academy, Lagos, as a tutor of General Science, Biology and Bible Knowledge.

Samuel Ladoke Akintola was a teacher and House Master in Baptist Academy, Lagos for an uninterrupted period of 12 years, between 1930-1942.

Akintola disagreed with Awolowo’s decision not to join the coalition government. Akintola felt the Yoruba people of the West were losing their pre-eminent position in business, university and administration in Nigeria to the Igbo people of the East simply because the Igbo-controlled NCNC had joined the government and the AG had not.

After the drudgery and stagnant life of a school teacher and lack of career prospect, he resigned from the Baptist Academy in 1942, to join the Nigerian Railway Corporation, where he worked briefly, before relocating to the profession of Journalism, by joining the Nigerian Daily Service Newspaper of Ernest Ikoli in 1942, from where he rose steadily to become its Editor.

LOVE AND MARRIAGE

Whilst in school, he had started dating Faderera Awomolo, a sister of his friend in Baptist College, who had also trained as a nurse in Baptist Hospital, Ogbomosho. Faderera’s father, a very strong-willed policeman, from Igbajo- an Ijesha speaking community, in present-day Osun State, also had very strong views.

Faderera inherited her father’s stubbornness and married Samuel Ladoke Akintola in 1935 when she was sent on a domestic errand to Lagos. She begat five children- Modele, Yomi, Abimbola, Ladipo, and Olatokunbo.

POLITICAL CAREER

After he had trained as a lawyer in the United Kingdom, Akintola returned to Nigeria in 1949 and teamed up with other educated Nigerians from the Western Region to form the Action Group (AG) under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

As the deputy leader of the AG party, he did not serve in the regional Western Region Government headed by the premier Awolowo but was the Action Group Parliamentary Leader/Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives of Nigeria. At the federal level, he served as Minister for Health and later Minister for Communications and Aviation.

Akintola was a dignified orator and was responsible for the founding of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) in 1962 and the building of the Cocoa House in 1965, while still Premier of the Western Region. He was also involved in the development of the Premier Hotel and other monuments in the Western Region.

Decisions over the direction of strategic alliances by the party, the adoption of democratic socialism as the party’s platform and the battle for supremacy in the party led to disagreement between Chiefs Akintola and Awolowo. Akintola disagreed with Awolowo’s decision not to join the coalition government.

Akintola felt the Yoruba people of the West were losing their pre-eminent position in business, university, and administration in Nigeria to the Igbo people of the East simply because the Igbo-controlled NCNC had joined the government and the AG had not.

He also opposed the party’s decision to adopt democratic socialism as its ideology, preferring a more conservative stance. Akintola was accused by Chief Awolowo of trying to supplant him as Leader of the party. 

You can read more about Akintola in this book… A Carnage Before Dawn

In May 1962 with the Western House of Assembly set to remove Akintola after the party had earlier passed a vote of no confidence on the Premier in a party meeting, crisis erupted on the floor of the house. The AG party broke into two factions leading to several crises in the Western Region House of Assembly that led the central/federal government, headed by the Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to declare State of Emergency rule in the Western region and Chief (Dr.) M.A Majekodunmi, the Federal Minister of Health was appointed as Administrator.

Eventually, Akintola was restored to power as Premier in 1963. In the general election of 1965, Akintola won his position as Premier, not as member of the Action Group party, but as the leader of a newly formed party called Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), which was in an alliance with the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) the party that then controlled the federal government.

LEGACY AND DEATH

In the early hours of January 15, 1966, the military struck and Akintola was assassinated by a team of Nigerian soldiers led by Captain Emmanuel Nwobosi.

Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola was later buried in his compound in Ogbomosho on January 23, 1966, with the entire community wearing a sad, sober and mournful look and a literal end, to the life of an Aare Ona Kakanfo who had fought a war with his tongue, his pen and strength! 

Akintola was a dignified orator and was responsible for the founding of the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife) in 1962 and the building of the Cocoa House in 1965, while still a Premier of the Western Region. He was also involved in the development of the Premier Hotel and other monuments in the Western Region.

The Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho is named in his honour and many other places in the country are named after him.

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Further Reading

Samuel Ladoke Akintola In the eyes of History

How Akintola, Balewa, Bello others were killed in Nigeria’s First Military Coup

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Ayomide Akinbode

Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.

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