By Uche Amunike
The designer of Nigeria’s national flag, Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi is dead. He died in the early hours of Tuesday, after a brief illness at the age of 86.
His death was announced through the Facebook account of one of his children, Samuel Akinkunmi, who posted: ‘Life is indeed transient; I can say boldly that you live a life with a landmark. Continue to rest, my father! Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi (O.F.R.): Great Man has gone.’
Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi was born on May 10, 1936 in Ibadan, Oyo state. He lived with his father until he was eight years old, before he moved to the northern part of Nigeria and began his early education. After his father retired, he came down to the west and was registered at Baptist Day Secondary School, Ibadan for his primary education and subsequently to Ibadan Grammar School, (IGS), Ibadan for his secondary education.
In 1955, he left IGS and was appointed as an agriculturist at the Western Region Secretariat in Ibadan as a civil servant and for some years, he worked there before gaining admission into the Norwood Technical College in London, where he studied Electrical Engineering. It was while studying in London that he designed the Nigerian flag.
Among the 2000 entries that were submitted for the Nigerian flag, his design was officially chosen. On Independence Day, on October 1960, the flag was officially raised, signifying the pulling down of the British flag in Nigeria. As a reward, Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi was given 100 pounds by the government. He was further honored as a Member of the Order of the Niger (MON), by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Federal government of Nigeria has reacted to the death of the late Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi, through a statement released by the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, on Wednesday. He stated that the elder statesman’s death happened at a time when Nigeria was rediscovering itself for development, peace, as well as enduring national reconciliation, noting that the flag designed by the late Akinkunmi was one of Nigeria’s most revered symbols and also an asset with which he etched his name forever in the annals of Nigerian history.
His words: ‘I am particularly saddened over the news of the demise of Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi, a national icon, whose contribution to national unity will remain indelible.’
‘I am confident that Pa Akinkunmi will continue to live in the minds of Nigerians for generations to come.’
‘I therefore, wish to use this opportunity to express my heartfelt condolences to his immediate family, praying that God will grant them the fortitude to bear this great loss’, he noted.
President Bola Tinubu has condoled with the family of the deceased. He sent his condolences through a press release issued on Wednesday by his media adviser, Ajuri Ngelale. According to the statement, Pa Akinwunmi dedicated his life to the service of Nigeria, by sharing knowledge and experience with both the old and the young, while inspiring many to think and act patriotically.
The president confirmed that the green and white flag stands as a legacy that has continually reflected the resilience, fruitfulness and harmony enjoyed by Nigeria, and the boldness and uniqueness with which Nigerians characteristically reach for and maintain successful leaps around the world.
He paid tributes to him for living and working for the greatness of the country, expressing his belief that he was resting eternally with a place of honor in Nigeria’s history.