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Samuel Ladoke Akintola, the First Man to Import a Bulletproof Car into Nigeria and Got Assassinated

Celebrated politician, chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, was the first man to import a bulletproof car into Nigeria in 1964. The car was a Mercedes Benz worth £8,000.

Akintola has been described as a political strategist and an orator of note, who rubbed shoulders with the likes of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and the Cicero of Esaoke, late Chief Bola Ige.

He was the 13th Aare Ona Kakanfo XIII of Yoruba, a highly revered traditional title in Yoruba land and also a great politician who was one of the founding members of modern Nigeria.

S.L.A, as he was popularly called, was born in Ogbomosho, Oyo State on July 6, 1910, to Akintola Akinbola and his mother, Akanke. He was a Baptist Lay Preacher, a Yoruba Fundamentalist, and an Attorney.

Akintola was a school teacher, railway worker, humorous scholar, linguist with enviable brilliance. He branched into journalism when he joined the Nigerian Daily Service Newspaper in 1942, from where he rose steadily to become the Editor.

He founded “Iroyin Yoruba”, a newspaper written in the Yoruba language.

As an editor, he got a scholarship to study journalism at the London School of Journalism in 1946. After completing his one year course, Ladoke Akintola went on to get a degree in Law and was called to the Bar in 1949.

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Chief S L Akintola Prime minister of western Nigeria in conversation with prime minister of Israel David Ben Gurion at Ben Gurion`s Office,Jerusalem. Circa 1961
Chief S L Akintola Prime minister of western Nigeria in conversation with the prime minister of Israel David Ben Gurion at Ben Gurion`s Office, Jerusalem. Circa 1961 – Pic Credit: kwekudee-tripdownmemorylane.blogspot.com

Akintola returned from the UK 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.

He was the legal adviser of the group until 1953 when he became the deputy leader following the death of Bode Thomas. As deputy leader of the AG party, Akintola was the Leader of Opposition in the House of Representatives of Nigeria refusing to serve in the regional Western Region Government headed by the premier Awolowo.

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).

Before his murder 54 years ago, Akintola was the Premier of the defunct Western Region between 1960 and 1966.He went on to serve as Minister for Health and later Minister for Communications and Aviation.

Two years after he imported the country’s first bulletproof car, Akintola was assassinated in Ibadan, in Nigeria’s first military coup of 15th January 1966 which terminated the First Republic.

In his remembrance, the Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho was established in his home town.

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Written by MT

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