Akinsanya Samuel

Odemo Akisanya in a photo taken after his ordination
Odemo Akisanya After Being Ordained, Source: snipview.com

Akinsanya Samuel was the nationalist during Awolowo’s era who acceded to the throne of his town as the Odemo of Isara. Born 1 August 1898 in Isara, Akinsanya was educated at the Anglican school in his hometown, and thereafter worked as a shorthand typist and writer. In his mid-twenties, Akinsanya collaborated with youngsters such as Ademola Adetokunbo and R.A. Coker to start the Lagos Study Circle, involved in the sponsorship of public debates, essay-writing, lectures, and book reviews. A flamboyant crowd-puller, Akinsanya would carry tonnes of books in his armpit whenever he was going to address mass meeting, and might even hire young people to help with some. Prolonged applause and shout of his alias, General Saki usually followed his dramatic oration.

As a leader of the Nigeria Youth Movement, Akinsanya Samuel coordinated a strike of the Nigerian Motor Transport Union in 1937 against higher registration fees for those mostly African-owned trucks competing with railway lines. He joined politics and contested in 1941 against two party members for a seat in the Legislative Council vacated by Dr. Kofo Abayomi, outgoing president of the NYM. Although he won by a wide margin, the constitutionally empowered election reviewers opted for Ernest Okoli. who was also a co-founder of the movement, like Akinsanya. Although Akinsanya’s initial reaction was to congratulate Okoli, the bitterness that followed this manipulation weakened the NYM, causing a momentary lull in their camp. Akinsanya resigned from the NYM and ran as an independent candidate, but lost to Ikoli. In an attempt to appease their own, Akinsanya was installed as the Odemo of Ìsarà-Remo, essentially forgiving his antagonism of Remo in their struggle for independence from Ijebu Ode province in 1933. He occupied the royal stool of his town for more than four decades, even though there were intrigues against him in the first decade of his rule. He was a founding member of Awolowo’s Action Group in 1951, and he became a member of the House of Chiefs in the Nigeria Western region. He served as a minister in the government of the Western Region from 1952 to 1955 without portfolio assigned. He lost this position, and a huge share of his stipend as traditional ruler of his town to the struggle of rival party to Action Group; the NNDP’s rise to power, and struggle for Remo. Akinsanya died in January 1985.

Tope Apoola
Profession: Writer