Nigeria: Designer of National Flag Hopeful, Despite Nigeria's Challenges

At 85, the designer of Nigeria's national flag, Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi believes in Nigeria and usually prays for the greatness of the country.

Asked about his relationship with the federal government, he kept silent. However, Nigerians believe he deserves better welfare from the government of a country he believes so much in.

Akinkunmi is presently living with one of his sons in the Oluyole area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

Many people who spoke with Daily Trust on Sunday described him as a hero without honour, but the retired civil servant remains grateful to the country.

Akinkunmi was 23 years old and a student of engineering at the Norwood Technical College, London in 1959 when he saw a newspaper advert calling on people to enter a competition to design the Nigerian flag. He won the competition.

He mailed his submission to Lagos within a short time; 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 had won 100pounds ($281 in 1959) as well as a place in Nigeria's history books.

That was about 62 years after a British journalist first suggested the name Nigeria. So the 23-year-old Ibadan-born student gave the new country its national flag.

"I felt satisfied when my design was taken. I got a price for winning the competition," he said.

In 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan honoured him with a national award and a certain amount of money.

The family and friends of the octogenarian celebrated him as he clocked 85 years last week.

In an interview with journalists as part of his birthday celebration, Pa Akinkunmi said the country would still be great despite the current challenges militating against its existence.

According to the octogenarian, he is always satisfied whenever his design is lifted up as Nigeria's national flag, adding that it is usually a memorable moment.

While wishing the country well in all its endeavours, Akinkunmi advised the youth to be law abiding. He urged them to continue contributing their quotas to the development of the country, with the hope that things would get better very soon.

"I wish the youth well; all the best to them. I hope it would be well for all and sundry.

"My advice is that government should interact with the people."

Akinkunmi further said the price he got for winning the competition and the recognition he received during the independence celebration were enough for serving the country.

Speaking on how the federal government treats the man who designed the country's national flag, an Ibadan traditional titleholder, Mogaji Wale Oladoja said, "The old man deserves better treatment. His contribution to the Nigeria project should be appreciated. If it were in another clime, Akinkunmi and his family would have been given a special treatment. Thanks to former President Jonathan for recognising him."

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