BY CHISOM NJOKU
Chief Obafemi Awolowo (1909-1987) was a Nigerian nationalist, a political leader, a key player in Nigeria’s independence movement, the First and Second Republics and the Civil War.
Obafemi Awolowo was born today, March 6, 1909 in Ikenné, Western State, Nigeria.
He was the first premier of the Western Region and later federal commissioner for finance, and vice chairman of the Federal Executive Council during the Civil War. He was thrice a major contender for his country’s highest office.
He was the first Leader of Government Business and Minister of Local Government and Finance, and first Premier of the Western Region under Nigeria’s parliamentary system, from 1952 to 1959.
He believed that the state should channel Nigeria’s resources into education and state-led infrastructural development. He then introduced free primary education for all and free health care for children in the Western Region, established the first television service in Africa in 1959, and the Oduduwa Group, all of which were financed from the highly lucrative cocoa industry which was the rock of the regional economy.
Awolowo died peacefully at his Ikenne home on 9 May 1987, at the age of 78 and was laid to rest in Ikenne.