Obafemi Awolowo – Facts about Nigerian Boldest Politician
Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, former leader of the Action Group, was born at Ijebu-Remo on the 6th of March, 1909. The son of a Yoruba farmer, he is one of the truly self-made men among hiss Nigerian contemporaries.
During a checkered career as a teacher, short-hand typist, businessman, newspaper reporter and then trade unionist, he studied in his spare time, gaining a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 1944. He entered Nigerian politics briefly before going to England to qualify as a lawyer in 1947.
On his return he plunged into politics and in 1951 founded the Action Group. After serving in various ministerial capacities, he became premier of the Western Region in 1954. At independence in 1960, he quit that post to become leader of opposition in the Federal Parliament.A tussle for power between him and his deputy, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola, who replace him as premier of the Western Region, and his rigid opposition to the Northern People’s Congress (N.P.C.)- controlled Federal Government brought an alliance of his enemies which soon led to his trial and imprisonment on charges of treason in 1963. He was released by General Yakub Gowon soon after the military coup of July 1966.
A popular leader among the progressive in pre-war Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo attempted in vain to bring about a last minute reconciliation between General Gowon and General Ojukwu. On this account he led a peace delegation to Enugu (Ojukwu capital) in early May 1967. When Biafra seceded and war broke out, he gave his support to General Gowon and was appointed to the highest civilian post in the Federal Military Government – the vice-presidency of the Federal Executive Council.
Strong-willed, austere and single-minded, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who has published a number of books on Nigeria politics and constitution, is perhaps the boldest and certainly one of the most ruthless of Nigeria’s politicians.