Elder statesman and frontline lawyer, Chief Richard Osuolale Akinjide ((SAN), died this morning after a brief illness. He was 88.
The eminent politician and father of former Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide, was hospitalised at the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan for old age-related ailment.
He was the counsel to former President Shehu Shagari in the historic presidential litigation, which he won against late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, based on the controversial 12 two-third permutation.
The Supreme Court ruled that the verdict that allotted victory to the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) against the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) should not be cited as a judicial precedent.
During the 1979 governorship election in Oyo State, he was defeated by late Chief Bola Ige.
Between 1979 and 1983, Akinjide served in the Shagari administration as Attorney-General and Minister of Justice.
He was succeeded by the late Chief Kehinde Sofola.
The frontline politician worked closely with national party chairman, Chief Adisa Akinloye, Chief Busari Adelakun, Alhaji Lamidi Adedibu, Chief Sunday Afolabi and other NPN top notch politicians to controversially install Dr. Victory Olunloyo as governor in 1983.
Akinjide joined the defunct National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) in the fifties.
He was a prominent member of the Western Regional Caucus along with his former teacher at Oduduwa College, Ile Ife, Chief Babatunji Olowofoyeku (SAN), Chief Theophilus Benson (SAN), Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya (SAN), Chief Odeleye Fadahunsi, Chief Olu Akinfosile and Alhaji Adegoke Adelabu.
He succeeded Jaja Wachukwu in 1964 as Federal Minister of Education.
He had defected from the NCNC to Premier Ladoke Akintola’s Nigeria National Democratic Party (NNDP), which he served as Regional Secretary.
As Education Minister, his decision to appoint Prof. Saburi Biobaku as Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos to succeed Prof. Eni Njoku sparked an ethnic row.
The matter was framed thus: Wachukwu, an Igbo, appointed Njoku, an Igbo. Akinjide, a Yoruba, appointed historian Biobaku, an Egba.
During the protracted crisis, Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was the visitor to the university, kept mute.
In 1967, Akinjide declined the offer of Commissioner in the Western State under the military rule because the announcement was made on the radio before he was informed by the Military Governor.
In 1970, Akinjide defeated Chief TOS Benson during the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) national chairmanship contest.
Between 1977 and 1978, he was a member of the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) set up by the Murtala/Obasanjo regime to fashion out the 1979 presidential constitution.
He was involved in judicial reforms. Until his demise, he was perceived as one of the elders of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Oyo State.
He was also a member of the Body of Benchers.