• Considered one of Nigeria’s Founding fathers
• He was the former Minister of Finance
• He came up with name of the Nigerian Currency Naira
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Obafemi Awolowo is regarded as one of Nigeria’s founding fathers, his bespectacled image still graces the N100 note
In the south-west of Nigeria, the former Premier of the then western region is still venerated as the ‘best President Nigeria never had’ with his influence still tangible in politics today.
There are not many Nigerians more famous than Chief Obafemi Awolowo who was born on March 6, 1909, to Chief David Sopolu Awolowo and his wife Mary Efunyela Awolowo in Ikenne, Remo, in what is now Ogun State of Nigeria.
But did you know?
He was the first individual in the modern era to be named Leader of the Yorubas (Asiwaju Awon Yoruba)
In 1945, Awolowo helped found the Egbe Omo Oduduwa, an organization with the mission of preserving and promoting Yoruba culture.
This along with the many projects he embarked on to develop the western region led to the conferment of the title of Asiwaju Awon Yoruba or Asiwaju Omo Oodua (Leader of the Yoruba) on him.
He was once sentenced to ten years of imprisonment
Found guilty of conspiring to overthrow the government of Nigeria In 1963 Awolowo was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment.
However, in 1966, a coup d’etat led to the suspension of Nigeria’s federal constitution and the empowerment of a military government.
The coup led to Awolowo’s release in July 1967.
He was once Minister of Finance
The new military government in 1967 appointed him as federal commissioner of finance and as vice-chairperson of the Federal Executive Council; a role he occupied till 1970, just after the civil war.
He came up with the word Naira
In his role as minister of finance, Awolowo coined the name for the new national currency, Naira, from Nigeria by collapsing the country’s name.
He was responsible for many firsts
As the first Premier of the Western region from 1954 to 1960, Awolowo built the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan (the first of its kind in Africa with a seating capacity of 35,000)
which was later renamed after him by President Jonathan Ebele Goodluck thirty years after his death;
established Western Nigerian Television (WNTV), the first television station in Africa, on October 1, 1959,
and was behind the erection of Cocoa House, the first skyscraper in tropical Africa (which is still the tallest building in Ibadan).