DR. IBIYINKA OLORUN-NIMBE: THE FIRST LORD MAYOR OF LAGOS
DR. IBIYINKA OLORUN-NIMBE
THE FIRST LORD MAYOR OF LAGOS
Dr Abu Bakr Ibiyinka Olorun-Nimbe was born on 20th September 1908 the first child and only son of Alhaji Abdu Rahman Lawal (Olorun-Nimbe) in the Ita Obadina/ Ita Pashi ( Obadina/Pashi Square) area of Oko Faji District of Lagos Island.
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His father Abdu Rahman ” Olorun-Nimbe” was a wealthy textile merchant/importer with trading links to Manchester, England whose own father before him, Lawal Amolese was also a renowned popular trader and Muslim leader in the same Ita Pashi area.
In spite of his noble birth however, this great son of Lagos and Nigerian nationalist, lived his entire life serving the common people of Nigeria.
He had his primary education at both the Government Muslim School Aroloya and Tinubu Methodist School in Lagos. His secondary education was at CMS Grammar School and Kings College Lagos where he finished in 1928.
After a brief working spell he proceeded to Scotland as a private student to study Medicine at the University of Glasgow with his tuition fully paid by his Father.
He qualified as a physician and Surgeon in 1937. The following year he entered the University of London to specialize in Tropical medicine.
On the completion of his studies, he returned to Lagos and joined the medical department of the Colonial Service where he like his Nigerian peers suffered racial discrimination.
They were paid lower salaries than their less qualified European counterparts. Consequently, he resigned his appointment in 1941 and set up his own surgery at his residence on Kakawa street in the same building that would House the Daily Times many years later.
He would later open Alafia Clinic at Turton Street in Lafiaji District. He was greatly appreciated by the people for both his expertise as a surgeon and his generosity and kindness.
He soon became personal physician to Herbert Macaulay with whom he grew very close and who ultimately influenced him to become involved in politics.
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Dr Olorun-Nimbe’s initial foray into politics was his nomination to the Lagos Town Council in 1943. He thereafter joined Herbert Macaulay’s Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP).
In 1945, he was elected to the Legislative Council of Nigeria as the first of the 3 members representing Lagos and reelected in 1947. All the while he kept his seat on the Lagos Town council after winning elections as an NNDP candidate.
In June 1947, Ibiyinka Olorun-Nimbe served as a Member of the 7-man NCNC delegation that went to London to lodge a formal protest with the Colonial Secretary to demand revision of the new Richards Constitution that divided Nigeria into 3 regions.
The delegation, led by Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe had Dr. Ibiyinka Olorun-Nimbe, Prince Adeleke Adedoyin, Mallam Bukar Dipcharima, Chief Nyong Essien, Mr. P.M. Kale and Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti (Fela’s mother) as members.
Dr. Nimbe as he was fondly called by the Lagos market women was a grassroots politician in spite of his noble birth and felt very much at home with every one. He helped to organize the Lagos Market women who at the time was led by the influential Madam Alimotu Pelewura, into a strong political and economic force.
He achieved a lot for the market women who in turn always backed him massively returning him with the highest votes in all elections he contested.
His political career peaked in 1950 when he was elected as the First Lord Mayor of Lagos at the age of 42.
He contested the election on the platform of the NCNC/NNDP coalition locally known as Demo against the formidable and ascendant Area Council/Action Group combination.
Dr Nimbe led the victorious 18 Demo councilors against only 6 for the AG. This achievement was no mean feat considering that his opponent in this election was no less than the recently crowned Oba Adele II of Lagos. Once again the market women delivered.
Dr. Olorun-Nimbe would shortly after gradually withdraw from politics and following the 1966 coup withdraw from public life until his death in 1973.
He was survived by 5 daughters, 2 wives and his 3 sisters.
His statue stands in front of the Lagos City Hall as a permanent and dignified tribute from the people of Lagos to its unassuming illustrious son.
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