Samuel Ládòkè Akíntọ́lá or “S.L.A.”was born in Ògbómòsó on July 6, 1910. He was a great politician and renowned for his great oratory. He held the title of the highly revered Aare Ona Kakanfo XIII of Yorubaland.
He spent some of his early years in Minna and went back to Ogbomosho to live with his grandparents in 1922. He was a teacher form 1930 to 1942 and worked briefly for the Nigerian Railway Operation before he joined the Nigerian Movement and established Iroyin Yoruba, a Yoruba language newspaper.
He left to study public administration and law in England and returned to Nigeria in 1950’s a qualified lawyer and then teamed up with other educated Nigerians from the Western Region to form the Action Group (AG) under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. As the deputy leader of the AG party, he did not serve in the regional government headed by its premier Chief Awolowo, but served as the parliamentary leader of his party in the House of Representatives of Nigeria.
In 1959, while preparing for Nigeria’s independence, the Action Group party took a decision that affected the career of Akintola, the party and Nigeria. He was asked to swap political positions with Awolowo to become the premier of the Western Region while Awolowo who also was the national leader of the AG, became the party leader in the Federal House of Representatives as well as the Opposition leader in the House.
The choice of roles in the Western Region led to a conflict between SLA and Awolowo. The AG party broke into two factions which lead to several crises in the Western Regional House of Assembly and made the federal government, headed by the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa to declare emergency rule there and an Administrator appointed. After a lengthy court battle, SLA was restored to power as Premier in 1963 and won in the general election of 1965 not as a member of the Action Group party, but as the leader of a newly formed party called Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) which was in an alliance with the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) the party that then controlled the federal government. At the federal level, he served as Minister for Health and later Minister for Communications and Aviation.
Along with many other leading politicians, Akintola was assassinated in Ibadan the capital of Western Region on January 15, 1966 during the first military coup which terminated Nigeria’s First Republic. “The shooting ensued for about two hours and subsided when he went out,but by the time we went out too we saw him lying dead in a pool of blood on the floor, apparently shot dead during the heavy shooting” says Yomi Akintola, his first son.
SLA was married to Chief Faderera Abeke Akintola and they had five children, two of whom became finance ministers in Nigeria’s Third Republic. Chief Yomi Akintola served as Nigeria’s Ambassador to Hungary and SLA’s daughter-in-law, Mrs. Dupe Akintola is Nigeria’s High Commissioner in Jamaica. His fourth child, Chief Victor Ladipo Akintola, dedicated much of his life to ensuring the continued accurate accounting of SLA’s contributions to Nigeria’s position on the world stage. Chief S L Akintola’s youngest son, the late Tokunbo Akintola, was the first black schoolboy at Eton College, enrolling two terms prior to the arrival of Dilibe Onyeama, author of Nigger at Eton.
Many institutions, including Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomosho established in his home town and other institutions in Nigeria were named in memory of him.