113th birthday: Why Tinubu must apologize at Akintola’s grave, compensate Ogbomoso 

113th birthday: Why Tinubu must apologize at Akintola’s grave, compensate Ogbomoso 




Were he alive Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola GCON would have been 113 years old today, July 10, 2023. Nevertheless, physically he is not, his memory remains evergreen, for the impactful life he led.


As school teacher, lawyer, journalist, activist, freedom fighter, federal minister, federal opposition leader, Action Group’s deputy leader, premier, Aare Ona Kakanfo, he left remarkable imprints. He was a giant of giants in the age of giants.


Chief Akintola possessed a fecund mind, deep imagination, unbelievable foresight and keen insight. His political adroitness was unfathomable, his inner strength to proffer solutions matchless, masterfully strategic and a practical person. His path crossing Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s (his leader and predecessor in office as premier) brought out the best in each of them as they complemented each other, but also brought ruins to their region and nation.

Tinubu in 2012


October 2012, Ondo state of Nigeria was going to the polls to elect a new governor. The contest had three major candidates – Dr Olusegun Mimiko of the Labour Party, Olusola Oke of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (Action Congress of Nigeria, ACN).


Senator Bola Tinubu, who was leader of ACN, was in the Sunshine State to campaign for candidate of his party, Akeredolu. He was writhing in anger over the perceived betrayal by Mimiko and had mounted the podium ready to tear down the incumbent governor of Ondo state.


Recall in 2006, Mimiko had resigned as minister from the government of President Olusegun Obasanjo to contest the governorship against Segun Agagu, the then incumbent and anointed of Obasanjo. Tinubu, who was rounding off his second tenure as governor of Lagos state, offered Mimiko the platform of his party, the defunct Action Congress (AC), but he declined, he wanted no godfather. He instead inaugurated Labour Party in the state and used the platform to vie for the exalted position. He won but Agagu was declared winner, it’s noted Obasanjo earlier declared the election do-or-die. Mimiko was aghast, this is injustice and a tendentious scenario, he ran to Tinubu for help, so he could reclaim his mandate. Tinubu acquiesced – that is his stock in trade. The Jagaban provided funds, raised a team of crack lawyers such as Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN), Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Yusuf Alli (SAN) and others to fight the legal battle; he also provided all the logistics and technical aspects and in 2009, the Appeal Court sitting in Benin, Edo state, confirmed the ruling of the Tribunal that Mimiko was actual winner of the 2007 gubernatorial election in Ondo state. He assumed the governorship forthwith.


Then, the hide and seek game with Tinubu began. According to Tinubu (now incumbent president of Nigeria), he had agreement with Mimiko that he would defect to the ACN (successor to AC), after his inauguration. Mimiko reneged. Tinubu was furious. That was the background to the 2012 governorship election in Ondo state.

It was a fierce battle. Mimiko was bent on winning reelection. Tinubu who was steadily on the ascendancy was rearing to exact pound of flesh. PDP’s candidate too was not taking things easy.


Tinubu was mad against Mimiko. His campaign mantra persistently centred on dressing Mimiko in traitorous garb. He drilled with venom.


It was thus in one of those rancorous moments that Tinubu in an unguarded statement while slamming Mimiko, hit Akintola too, drawing parallel between the two.


He lambasted Mimiko as a traitor for failing to join the ACN despite the party’s huge investment in reclaiming his mandate. Attempting to drive home most terrifyingly the treachery of his adversary and make it stick in Ondo people’s subconscious he resurrected Akintola, comparing Mimiko with Akintola’s political trajectory.


The former governor said Mimiko behaved like Akintola stressing that those who betrayed Awolowo faced the repercussions.

Awolowo (left) with Akintola

The alleged Akintola’s betrayal

Chief Awolowo’s life ambition was assuming the political leadership of Nigeria in executive capacity. In the First Republic he eyed the prime ministerial position. He was a brilliant and competent man willing to foist visionary leadership on the country. But the odds were stacked terribly against him, indeed against any southerner coveting the position of prime minister. The north had the advantage of population; the region was propped up as having the largest population, wangled by the outgone British colonialists. They ruthlessly leveraged on that to maintain the edge in elections.


The politics of the First Republic was largely regional. Action Group (AG) led by Awolowo was restricted to the southwest; Northern Peoples Party (NPC) led by Sir Ahmadu Bello to the north and National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) headed by Dr Nnamdi Azikwe to the east. Each party was strong and dominant in its region.


Awolowo, Tafawa Balewa (NPC) and Azikwe were perennial contestants for the top job. Balewa backed by Ahmadu Bello persistently emerged victorious. Awolowo was frustrated and depressed. Akintola noted this, and came into the conclusion that only an alliance with the northern NPC by the AG would bring the desired goal to his boss, Awolowo. Having lived in the north and so, with a good mastery of Hausa language, he reached out to the northern politicians on possibility of an alliance. He penetrated the region, his willingness to understand their sentiment and fear and his own flexible nature all he brought to bear. He succeeded, the north was willing to concede the prime ministerial slot but Awolowo would have none of that rather favouring a coalition with the NCNC, which eventually threw him under the bus. Awolowo poached a large number of party chieftains, ostracized Akintola and branded him a traitor. It forged an alliance with the NCNC but when the chips were down it ditched the alliance and went with the north and AG was bitterly left out in the cold.


The Ogbomoso-born politician was hounded out of the AG and his townsmen widely persecuted across Yorubaland. Akintola emerged premier of Western region in 1959 and won reelection four years later in a contentious atmosphere, and was in time killed in the first military putsch on January 15, 1966. His brutal assassination was consequently seen as affirmation of the claim of Akintola’s betrayal of Awolowo.

Artist impression: Akintola (second right), Awolowo (right) and Abiola ) second left) rejoicing and commending Tinubu, first beneficiary of Akintola model from the southwest

Triumph of Akintola model

But is Akintola a traitor? The following events will answer this pertinent question.

From independence to 1999 the north monopolized the federal government’s headship either as civilian or military. Only twice (January 1966 to July 1966) and (February 1976 to October 1979) did the power get relinquished to southerners, and based on certain circumstances, never out of their own volition. Aguiyi Ironsi became first military ruler on account of his being the most senior officer in the army after the failed coup of January 1966 but the north killed him six months later to pave way for one of their own. Then, in 1976 after then head of state Murtala Muhammed was murdered in another coup (by co-northern officers), the north not wanting to appear as perpetually supreme strategically brought in Olusegun Obasanjo, who was deputy to Murtala Muhammed, to assume the position of head of state. Obasanjo titling a book he wrote “Not my will,” referring to his unwillingness to mount the saddle, lent credence to the supremacy of the north. This is further accentuated by the nature of Obasanjo’s rulership – he was in government but not in power. He served the whims of the north all through culminating in his handing over to another northerner, a civilian, in 1979 – Sheu Shagari, in place of Awolowo, who believably won that year’s presidential election.


To foreclose power rotating to the south after the second term of Sheu Shagari, another northerner took over in a military coup in December 1983, followed by another northerner in 1985.


Moshood Abiola won presidential election in 1993 but he was denied by the north, eventually getting killed in prison. The north continued the domination. But they reached another cul-de-sac in 1999 as a result of the death of Moshood Abiola. Someone from the south who would do their biddings must therefore be pushed to the presidency; they found in Obasanjo again that pliable character. They terminated the prison term he was serving and supported him t o be president.


Goodluck Jonathan that did not fit into the equation they cut they forced out to pave way for another northerner.


Tinubu, a brilliant and master political strategist, scrupulously studied the trend. He knew and unassumingly admitted the levers of power resided in the north, and to grab it, one needs to win their trust and loyalty. If they don’t trust you a great deal, if you don’t embrace them, if you don’t romance them, understand them, allay their fears, succumb to their whims, pamper them, help them, appear un-filial to your own people, forget it you won’t have your way. That’s the Akintola model – earn the trust of the north and you will have an unfettered road to the presidency. So far, it has worked that way,


That’s the model that brought Tinubu the presidency. He must have realized late and that is why he denigrated Akintola in 2012. He had now come full cycle to lick his vomit. He must have begun to get entangled into the loop of the model himself shortly after the 2012 episode sequel to which he took that epochal, game changing step to approach Muhammed Buhari for alliance that earned the latter the presidency in 2015 and himself in 2023.


Akintola’s grave in his Ogboymoso residence at Oke Ado


Having imbibed the spirit advocated by Akintola to have his way, having embraced and toed the path charted by Akintola but which instigated opprobrium and demeaning vilification against him (Akintola) some which emanated from him (Tinubu), and having adopted it and had it work for him, President Bola Tinubu in the spirit of restitution needs to eat the humble pie and apologize at the grave of Akintola and pay for his moment of impertinence by requiting Akintola’s hometown and people which/who suffered untoward recriminations on this account too. Paying restitutive damages is a course that will mark him as a true man of greatness and heal old wounds.



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