Despite challenges, Nigeria’s flag designer, Pa Akinkunmi, still optimistic

Akinkunmi Nigeria's flag designer

At 85, the designer of the Nigeria national flag, Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi, is unshaken in his belief in the corporate existence of Nigeria as a nation. While he is not complaining of lack of support from the government both at the state and federal levels, however, to some Nigerians, given his modest contribution, he deserves been celebrated and catered for.

Pa Akinkunmi who resides with one of his sons in Oluyole area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, while speaking with Rulers’ World, said he always pray for Nigeria’s greatness even as he refused to be drawn into commenting on his treatment by the government.

Described by many as a hero without honour, the retired civil servant maintained that he remains grateful to the country despite the myriad of challenges facing it.

He was 23 years old in 1959 and a student in London studying engineering at the Norwood Technical College when he saw a newspaper advertisement calling on people to enter a competition to design the Nigerian flag which he later won. This was about 62 years after a British journalist first suggested the name “Nigeria” for the country.

According to him, he mailed his entry to Lagos and in October of the following year, he received a letter inviting him to the London office of the Commissioner for Nigeria in the United Kingdom, where he was told that his green and white design had been selected. He won for himself 100 pounds ($281 in 1959), and importantly a place in Nigeria’s history books.

He was recognised in 2014 by the administration of former President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, with the conferment of national honour and a gift of an undisclosed amount of money.

Pa Akinkunmi who was celebrated by family members and friends during his 85th birthday said the country will still be great despite the current challenges militating against its existence, stating that one of his memorable achievements in life is that he felt fulfilled when his design was picked as Nigeria’s national flag.

While wishing the country well in every sector, he charged youths to be law-abiding, urging them to continue contributing their quota to the development of the country with the hope that things will get better soonest.

His words, “I participated in the competition when the government advertised it. I got my papers and tried to do something that will represent the flag of the country. My own design was selected and I won the competition.

“I felt satisfied when my design was chosen. I got a prize for winning the competition. I wish our youths well and good. I wish them all the best. I hope it will be well and good for all and sundry. My advice is that government should try to make interaction feasible in the day-to-day running of the country.”

However while reacting to the treatment meted out to the octogenarian by successive governments in the country, an Ibadan Chief, Mogaji Wale Oladoja, described Pa Akinkunmi as a hero without honour. He said, “The old man deserves better treatment. His contribution to Nigeria project should be appreciated. If it was in another country, Akinkunmi and his family would have been given special treatment. But thanks to former President Goodluck Jonathan for honouring him.”