History is written only by the survivors, not by the dead, and Just like Chinua Achebe of the blessed memory opined, until lions have their own historians, history of the hunting written by the children of hunters will always glorify the hunters.
This leads me to the case of Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, It is either history is not fair to him or people are not fair to history. The early demise of Chief Akintola almost turned the tide against him, a valorous man was erroneously portrayed as villain just to elevate the counterpart, but anyone that has an iota of fairness in his or her possession would have reasons to balance the story.
Out of what I called perversion of history, or deliberate attempt ladened with malevolent intention to score an hegemonic point, some people viciously tagged Ladoke Akintola with villainy, this is not only unreasonable but also far from reality.
Akintola, the Premier of Old Western region was a courageous man that deserved to be acknowledged and celebrated by every well-meaning Yorubas in Nigeria. His intrepidity earned him the title of Aare-Ona-Kakanfo “Generalissimo” of Yoruba land. He was never an accident of history, but a product and maker of history.
In their perverted history, they misinformed the world that Akintola betrayed Awolowo, just like the perverted history would always insinuate that Awolowo betrayed Ojukwu, but in a straightforward narration crowned with fact, Awolowo did not betray Ojukwu neither did Akintola betray Awolowo. They both played their separate roles with people’s driven content.
It should be known, Akintola was never a pupil to Awolowo, they were both matured men with legal and political experience when they formed Action Group in 1950, different ideas culminated and Awolowo was chosen as the leader of AG while Akintola replaced Bode Thomas as the Deputy leader of AG after his death in 1953. In 1953, Ladoke Akintola with his intrepidity led the combined team of Igbos and Yorubas to Kano in what led to the Popular Kano Riot of 1953.
In fact, the position that Awolowo occupied after independence, Minority Leader of the opposition in National Legislative Council, Akintola was once an occupier in 1950s while Awolowo was the Premier of Western Region in 1954.
Awolowo was the ideologist, a dexterous writer, but Akintola was that oratory multilingual politician that knew how better to take spectators or audience to the satisfactory realm, a sonorous singer and a skilled dancer. He knew the skills of Politics almost perfectly.
In 1959, Awolowo as the Premier of the Western Region wanted to contest for the position of President, he needed to forfeit the position of Premiership, Action Group later favoured Akintola as the successor in Old Western Region even when Awolowo never wanted such a wise and decisive person to succeed him.
The cordial collaboration of Akintola and Awolowo made the people of Oyo/Ibadan/Oke Ogun/Ife/Osogbo/Ogbomoso Axis to received Awolowo, an Ijebu man wholeheartedly against the background of hostility between the two fragments.
In 1960, during Awolowo Presidential campaign process, Awolowo was reportedly overwhelmed with joy to the extent that he bursted into tears at the newly built Liberty Stadium in Ibadan because for the first time, the crowd that came out for his campaign symbolized the fact that he was totally accepted by the people that were once hostile to him. All because of the Honorable man, Samuel Ladoke Akintola that had the capacity to mobilize them, the duo are masters in different lanes.
Awolowo couldn’t make it to the presidency, he became the the opposition leader in Nigeria Legislative Council while Akintola became the Premier of the Western Region.
With the little information above, against all odds, we should be enlightened enough to decipher the fact that Akintola was not a learner neither a pupil to late sage Awolowo. They were both sagacious politicians with the love of the Yorubas at heart.
The feud that ensued between Awolowo and Akintola started in 1962, all in the name of two Political leaders of Yoruba with the intention of placing Yoruba people in their rightful position in Nigeria, but with variant path to achieve this advancement.
It was glaring at a point that none of the existing three regional political parties (NCNC, AG and NPC) had the requirements to control the central alone without alliance with others. Awolowo preferred having alliance with NCNC of Azikwe because he considered the Northern Leaders as retrogressive, but Akintola with his political calculation preferred an alliance with NPC under Ahmadu Bello.
Akintola advanced his reasons for preferring the Northern Alliance. At this time in question, Western Region was dominated by the Easterners, Educationally, Socially and Economically. Also, Akintola had spent some youthful years in the North, so, he knew Northerners better.
Akintola saw the alliance of Azikwe with the Northerners as the reason for the domination of the Eastern Region, he argued that for Yoruba to gain back full possession of their region, they also needed to be friend of the party that controls the central. His postulation was jettisoned by Awolowo, this drew the battle line between the duo and the battle for superiority started in earnest.
At the process, Awolowo was accused by the central government and incarcerated for a treasonable felony, but the heat to the feud culminated to the popular “Wild West” or “Wetie” of 1954. Action Group was partitioned, Awolowo faction and Akintola faction. The two elephants were fighting and the grasses were suffering.
As a sagacious Politician, Akintola brought back NNDP of Herbert Maucaully and was able to curtail the excess of Awolowo by aligning with the party in the central, NPC to form NNA, Awolowo couldn’t stop him because he aligned with a fraction of Igbos that formed UPGA. Akintola position was now justified because aligning with the central gave him the impetus over Awolowo, just like Easterners alliance with the North made them to dominate Western Region.
With this lucid analysis, one has debunked all the fallacious insinuations that Akintola betrayed Awolowo. The duo played Politics, none is superior and none is inferior, they all worked to see the advancements of the Yoruba race but with different means.
Nobody betrays anybody, rather, lack of consensus on the best way to follow to achieve the similar objective directed their historical trajectory unto the path of gory.
As time goes on, I hope I would be able to engage in elaborate researches and write academic worthy books to balance the story in every classes. Akintola Baba Lamilami deserves a fair share of History.
Ogunwoye Samson Gbemiga
Iresapupa, Ogbomoso, Oyo State.