Ernest Ikoli

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Ernest Sissei Ikoli (1893–1960) was a Nigerian politician, nationalist and pioneering journalist. He was the president of the Nigerian Youth Movement and in 1942, represented Lagos in the legislative council.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

He was Born at 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 he worked at the Lagos Weekly Record, a paper that has since disappeared.[2] 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.[3] 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. In 1942 he was elected onto the Legislative Council and was re-elected in 1946.[2]

Nigerian Youth Movement[edit]

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, when Sir Kofo Abayomi, a Lagos leader of the movement, resigned his position at the legislative council, an election was held among NYM members to select a candidate to contest the seat. In the primary election, Samuel Akisanya collated the most votes, second was Ernest Ikoli, but with the support of H.O Davis, Awolowo, Akintola and a few others, the central committee of the organization which had the right to review the results presented Ernest Ikoli as the movement's candidate. Though, Oba Akisanya immediately congratulated Mr Ikoli, he later reneged and contested but lost the seat as an independent candidate with the support of his primary backer, Nnamdi Azikiwe.[4] 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. The resulting feud is seen by some analysts as a contributing catalyst to the enmity that exist between some ethnic groups in the country and also as a major focal point of electoral disputes and the ominous role they played in destabilizing the country.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Awo: The Autobiography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Cambridge University Press, 1960.
  2. ^ a b Toyin Falola, The History of Nigeria, Greenwood Press (30 September 1999). ISBN 0-313-30682-6
  3. ^ Igomu Onoja (August 2005). "The Political Economy of News Reportage and Presentation of News in Nigeria: A Study of Television News" (PDF). University of Jos. Retrieved 2011-05-16. 
  4. ^ Awo: The Autobiography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Cambridge University Press, 1960. pp. 130-160.
  5. ^ Al-Bashir, "Documenting Electoral Disputes", Vanguard, Nigeria, 7 August 2003.