Life comes bundled with opportunities time and over again. It is our ability to spot these opportunities and make maximum use of them that opens unexpected breakthroughs during our lifetime. It was one of such opportunities that the then 23 year old Taiwo Akinkunmi took and has subsequently earned him a national award and a life time salary of N800,000 monthly as awarded by Dr. Goodluck Jonathan – an erstwhile president of Nigeria during Nigeria’s 54th Independence Anniversary celebrations in 2014.
Pa Taiwo Akinkunmi now 80 years old, having been born on May 10, 1936 got to know about the competition to design the Nigerian flag in 1958 while studying Electrical Engineering at Norwood Technical College in London. In 1959, he received a letter that his entry had been selected and had won him 100 pounds and thus secured an unforgettable place in the history of Nigeria.
His early education began in the North after having relocated there at the age of 8. Following his father’s retirement and subsequent relocation to the West, he attended Baptist Day School located at Idi-Ikan in Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria and finished there in 1949 before proceeding to Ibadan Grammar School in 1950. After completing his education at Ibadan Grammar School in 1955, he became a civil servant having picked up an appointment in the then Western Region Secretariat in Ibadan as an agriculturist.
After working for some years, he secured admission to study Electrical Engineering at the Norwood Technical College. It was while there that he came across the competition to design the Nigerian national flag – an opportunity he grabbed with both hands and sent in his design which was subsequently chosen as the winner. Though his initial design had a red sun and rays on the white shade, it was subsequently removed with the remaining design left the way it is.
In 1963, Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi returned to Nigeria and resumed back at the agricultural department at the Western Region Secretariat in Ibadan to continue from when he stopped. Until 1994 when he retired as a result of his deteriorating health, he was the Assistant Superintendent of Agriculture. On the 29th of September 2014, he was honoured with the Officer of the order of the Federal Republic (OFR) by the Federal Government of Nigeria in recognition of his contribution to the national identity of the nation and as a distinguished Nigerian.
He lives in his modest house in Ibadan, Nigeria built by his son through the money received when he appeared on a special edition of the Nigerian version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” TV Show.
He made his contributions to #MoveNaija
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