Friday, January 15, 2016 10:49 pm
The scion of the family of a late Premier of the defunct Western Region, Ambassador Abayomi Akintola, has given graphic details of the almost twenty-hour siege that culminated in the brutal assassination of his father, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, during the January 15, 1966 coup.
He insisted that the body of his father was not mutilated by the mutineers as widely believed, but confirmed that the invaders abandoned his blood-soaked body at the entrance of the building.
The former Nigeria Ambassador to Hungary recounted the 1966 harrowing experience during a lecture marking the 50th anniversary of the death of Akintola, held at the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, yesterday, Thursday January 14 2016.
The event was attended by the Governor of Oyo State, Senator Abiola Ajimobi; his predecessor, Chief Adebayo Alao-Akala; Secretary to the Osun State Government, Alhaji Mashood Adeoti; a former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Chief Richard Akinjide; Senator Brimmo Yusuf, among others.
Also on Friday, the governor led others to lay wreaths in honour of the country’s war heroes during the 2016 Armed Forces Remembrance Day celebration at the Remembrance Arcade, opposite the Government House, Ibadan.
Ajimobi said, “It is pertinent to remember gallant solders that have put down their lives to sustain the unity of our dear country. We will continue to support them even when they are no more.”
The General Officer Commanding, 2 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Laz Ilo, described the programme as a good way of giving honour to the fallen soldiers, whom, he said, did their best and paid the supreme price for the unity, sovereignty and survival of the country.
At the LAUTECH lecture, Akintola said that none of the premier’s children and their wives was injured while the gun attack lasted, describing their father as a hero who laid down his life and shielded his family from the invaders.
He said, “I was managing a thriving business in Lagos when my later father directed me to relocate to Ibadan when he became premier. Although I was very reluctant to leave certainty for uncertainty, I had to defer to him. That was how I came to Ibadan. During the coup, about 50 soldiers invaded our house. My father was in a room within the house with us and we begged him no to go out. We shielded ourselves with the big wardrobes in the room as the soldiers began to shoot sporadically. At a stage my father told us he wanted to go and meet them, but we begged him not to go. Like the hero that he was, he told us that he would prefer to go and face them and damn the consequence, rather than to allow them to wipe out his family if we all continued to hide.”
Akintola said his father eventually confronted the soldiers, who alleged initially ran away, frightened that any living thing in the house could survive under the hail of bullets aimed at every direction in the building.
During the coup, about 50 soldiers invaded our house. My father was in a room within the house with us and we begged him no to go out. We shielded ourselves with the big wardrobes in the room as the soldiers began to shoot sporadically. At a stage my father told us he wanted to go and meet them, but we begged him not to go. Like the hero that he was, he told us that he would prefer to go and face them and damn the consequence, rather than to allow them to wipe out his family if we all continued to hide.”
According to him, it was not until 7am the following day when the family could venture out of the building only to discover the body of the family’s patriarch in a pool of his blood.
He described the late premier as a nationalist, a quintessential family man, a democracy lover, an orator and committed politician who did his best to raise the socio-economic profile of the Western region.
In his address at the event, Ajimobi admonished the family of the late premier to reach out and involve more people and political leaders on issues and events relating to the late premier, whom he described as an “unsung hero.”
The governor noted that the political evolution of the contemporary Nigeria began with the political activities and contributions of the likes of Akintola. Adding, “Akintola died at God’s appointed time. It’s our fault that Akintola was not being celebrated the way we should. I want to first blame the family for monopolizing him; then the rest of us. That is why I would want us to start strategizing on how to compensate this nationalist. The contemporary political history and evolution of Nigeria begins with the outstanding contributions of many notable nationalists, politicians and statesmen, who were beacons of light in their generation. In the forefront, no doubt, was the Late Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola.”
Continuing, “This late icon was an unsung hero, not only because of his unprecedented achievements as a politician, a parliamentarian, an astute administrator, but also because he was a bridge builder in Nigeria’s search for national integration. In the various ministries where he served and most importantly under his watch as the Premier, his administration became the centre of landmark achievements. Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola was an orator, humourist, forceful campaigner, crowd-puller and a frontline politician.”
In his lecture, a professor of History from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Enoch Oyedele, traced the country’s social and economic malaise to the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates.
According to him, the architect of the merger, Sir Lord Lugard, only succeeded in the administration of the new Nigeria, but failed woefully in uniting the merged people and their diverse interests.
The lecturer admonished the proponents of separatism to perish the thought and team up with compatriots to build the nation, instead of causing disturbances and violence in different parts of the country.
Oyedele said, “Whether they call themselves Biafra, Boko Haram or any other name, anybody clamouring for the balkanization of this country should forget the idea. Nigeria is a viable country if its resources are well harnessed and applied. Political party system is one of the greatest problems confronting this country today. Political parties are mere platforms being used to win elections. They are not movement of the people. We must restructure this country to redress the unjust political and socio-economic structure of Nigeria. Unless we upturn ‘the monkey dey work, baboon dey chop’ syndrome, we cannot solve the problem of Nigeria. We need to go back to most of the recommendations of the last National Conference. The centre is too strong today, collecting 53 per cent of allocation from Federation Account.”
Speaking against creation of more states, the don expressed optimism that the country could experience a new political order capable of solving the national question if some of the recommendations of the conference were adopted