Thursday, July 25, 2019 11:44 pm
…Says Ikoli will bring respect, development to Bayelsa -Jonathan
George, the grandson of the late nationalist, Ernest Sissei Ikoli (1893–1960), has joined the Bayelsa State governorship race. His grandfather was a Nigerian politician, pioneering journalist and the first editor of the Daily Times. He was the president of the Nigerian Youth Movement and in 1942, represented Lagos in the Legislative Council.
When George Ikoli visited former President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Wednesday in his Abuja home, he commended George-Ikoli SAN, for joining the race, saying his election will bring credibility, respect and development, not only to Bayelsa State, but the entire Niger-Delta.
Chief Ikoli visited President Jonathan in his Abuja home where he formally informed him of his aspiration, and also presented him with his blueprint for the development of Bayelsa State.
President Jonathan has, according to The Gavel, always expressed confidence in Chief Ikoli’s achievements. In 2006 when he became a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the highest rank in the legal profession, Jonathan, then governor of Bayelsa State, not only attended the investiture at the Supreme Court of Nigeria, he threw a lavish dinner in Ikoli’s honour at the State Capital, Yenagoa to celebrate the first SAN from the state.
At the occasion, President Jonathan said that Ikoli’s joining the race has already added credibility to the contest. He warned him that the competition will be stiff and ask him to work hard to attain the goal, not only for himself, but also for the good of the state. “Some of us have been thinking of zoning because of fairness. But competence will definitely erase that fear as a competent leader will be fair to all. In any case, in less than 50 years from now, nobody will be talking of zoning”, he said.
Chief Ikoli thanked the former President for been a worthy leader of the Nigerian people. He said that his achievements while in office can never be forgotten. “Nigerians keeps knowing your worth more and more everyday”, he said further. He said as the foremost leader of the state, it is my duty to inform you first about my vision for the state. Being a visionary leader yourself, and one who has always supported every hard working Nigerian, I am confident of your support”, he concluded.
His grandfather, Earnest Ikoli was born in Nembe in present-day Bayelsa State and educated at Bonny Government School, Rivers State and King’s College, Lagos. After completing his studies at King’s College, he became a tutor at the school – a post which he left to pursue a career in journalism. Ikoli is remembered today as one of the pacesetters of Nigerian journalism and the independence struggle. For a period, as a historian puts it on Wikipedia, he worked at the Lagos Weekly Record, a paper that has since disappeared. He was the first editor of the Daily Times of Nigeria, which was launched in June 1926 with Adeyemo Alakija as Chairman of the Board. He later became publisher of the now defunct African Messenger. In the 1930s he was one of the founders of the Nigerian Youth Movement and was once the movement’s president. During this period, the movement was engaged in an intense power struggle with Herbert Macaulay’s NNDP. His tenure in the print media business had a vast impact on Nigeria’s road to independence.
Ernest Ikoli started the Nigerian Youth Movement with other prominent Nigerians like Hezekiah Oladipo Davies, James Churchill Vaughan and Oba Samuel Akisanya (aka General Saki). The movement originally started as the Lagos youth movement, it was partly formed to voice concerns about the lackluster colonial higher education policy. The movement was largely Lagos based but as varied members entered the organization, it metamorphosed to become the Nigerian Youth Movement; a political action group with a nationalistic flavor and outlook. Nnamdi Azikiwe, an important political personality joined the group in 1936 and brought in a large followership.
In 1941 Kofo Abayomi, a Lagos leader of the movement, resigned his position at the Legislative Council, forcing a by-election. A primary election was held among NYM members to select a candidate to contest the seat, in which Samuel Akisanya collated the most votes, with Ikoli in second place. However, with the support of H.O. Davis, Obafemi Awolowo, Akintola and a few others, the party’s central committee, which had the right to review the results, chose Ikoli as the movement’s candidate. Although Akisanya immediately congratulated Ikoli, he later reneged and contested the seat as an independent candidate with the support of his primary backer, Nnamdi Azikiwe, although he lost to Ikoli. The loss of Akisanya in the election led to his exit from the movement, Azikiwe also left the movement, both took away most of their supporters.
Although Ikoli lost his seat in another by-election in 1946, the result was overturned following a lawsuit and Ikoli regained his membership of the Legislative Council. He ran in the general elections the following year, but withdrew his candidacy shortly before the elections.
In 1951, Ikoli, along with Awolowo and their allies formed the Action Group, which was dedicated to promoting Yoruba interests in the wake of Nigerian Independence. During this time Ikoli edited The Daily Service , which voiced the party’s agenda. It is important to note his role in achieving independence. His vast print media career and political acumen helped transform Nigeria from a British colony, into an independent state.