Colonel Shittu Alao (left), Chief of the Nigerian Air Staff, alongside Major General Yakubu Gowon (centre), and Colonel Udoakaha Esuene, in February 1968.
This is a rare colour picture of Colonel Shittu Akanji Alao who died on October 15, 1969 in an air crash at Uzebba, about 50 miles northwest of Benin.
Alao, had been appointed the Chief of the Air Staff of Nigeria’s air force in August 1967, and was the second indegene to hold the office.
Alongside Alao are Major General Yakubu Gowon, the Nigerian Head of State and Colonel Udoakaha Esuene, the military governor of the South Eastern State. They were inspecting a five-seater aircraft which was seized from Biafran forces by Federal troops during fighting in the Nigerian Civil War.
The son of a father from Nigeria’s Western Region and a mother who hailed from the North, Alao was of striking appearance, being of great height (around 6ft 5) and build. He also had facial scarification marks (“Gombe”/”Keke”), which reflected his father’s Ogbomosho origins.
He was born in 1937.
© Adeyinka Makinde (2019)
Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.